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Hanukkah in Israel: A Message from Rabbi Lindemann

12/08/2023 01:53:53 PM


Rabbi Steven Lindemann

My friend Uri sent me this picture yesterday, as his family prepared to light the first candle of Hanukkah.

I replied: “How about if we light candles together on the last night?!”  

I’m leaving for Israel on Tuesday, as part of a Rabbinical Assembly Mission.  

More about that in a moment. First, a few words of Torah. The parashah for this Shabbat is Vayeyshev—the beginning of the story of Joseph and his brothers. It is introduced with the words Vayeyshev Yaakov, which can be translated as “Jacob sat.” Rashi (11th century commentary, France) translates the word Vayeyshev, as “settled” and says, “Jacob thought he could ‘settle down,’ but then all sorts of troubles came upon him.” However, we know that Vayeyshev can also mean “he sat,” which suggests that Jacob thought he could sit things out and that’s when trouble started.  

This is a perfect parashah for Shabbat Hanukkah. Just think of what would have happened if the Maccabees had chosen to “sit it out” rather than fighting for freedom. No holiday! No candles! No Israel! And, quite probably, no Jewish people. The lesson of Jewish history is that, for us, there can be no Vayeyshev. When it comes to Israel and the Jewish future, there can be no sitting it out.  

That’s why Rabbi Peltz went on a Mission to Israel last month, and that’s why I am going on the Rabbinical Assembly Mission this month.   

The truth is, I’m going for a lot of reasons: 

  • I’m going to listen, to meet with the survivors of October 7 at Kibbutz Kfar Aza and to hear their stories and feelings from them, unmediated by the media; 
  • I’m going to pay shiva calls to families of those massacred and to families of fallen soldiers and to a whole country in mourning because we are really all one family; 
  • I’m going to stand with the families of hostages still held in Gaza, to give hugs and to hold hands and to pray with them;   
  • I’m going to bring some games to kids who have been displaced from their homes and to play with them; 
  • I’m going to deliver Hanukkah cards our TBS Religious School students wrote to IDF soldiers and to students at Ma'ayanot, our sister congregation in Israel; 
  • I’m going to support the work of our Masorti rabbis in Israel, who have been doing so much to provide comfort and hope, every day…and especially for the last 62 days;  
  • I’m going to give tzedakah directly to those who need so much, right now; 
  • I’m going to light Hanukkah candles with all of these people and with my friend Uri. 
  • I’m going to Israel to represent TBS and to show that, for us, “We Stand With Israel” is more than a slogan. That’s why Ron Safier is in Israel right now, as a volunteer on an IDF base. That’s why Rabbi Peltz went to Israel last month, and that’s why Rabbi Wexler is planning to be part of a Mission next month. That is why we are looking into a TBS Mission to do volunteer work in the next few months. Let us know if you might be interested in joining us. 

And if you want to support all that TBS is doing to “Stand with Israel,” please consider a donation to help us make those words a tangible reality. Every day at TBS we see the power of community and the importance of standing with Israel. Please help us continue to do this by making a donation to support our efforts. 

Stand with TBS, so TBS can “Stand with Israel."

At TBS, we know that for the future of Israel, for the future of the Jewish people, for our future, there can be no Vayeyshev—no sitting it out.

Am Yisrael Hai! Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukkah,

Rabbi Lindemann

To Donate Online
Visit and use the drop-down menu under "type" and select the Rabbi Lindemann Mission to Israel 2023 Fund.

Sun, July 14 2024 8 Tammuz 5784