Chanukah: Why Jewish Institutions are NOT Important?!
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There is something so subtle, yet powerfully unique about Chanukah that really brings home the goal of every Jewish institution.  In fact, this power was one of the reasons behind the name choice of, “The House.”  Do you know what it is?  I’ll give you a hint: strong Jewish institutions do NOT ensure a strong Jewish future.

There is no mitzvah to light the menorah in school.  There is no mitzvah to light the menorah in shul.  There is no mitzvah to light the menorah at a large Jewish event.  There is no mitzvah to light the menorah in your office.  In fact, if we do light the menorah in any of these places, we must still light it again afterwards!  Strange… I can fulfill my obligation to blow the shofar, shake a lulav, eat matzah or read the megilla anywhere; so why can’t I light the menorah in any of these places?

The answer, I believe, is at the very heart of Jewish continuity:

Chanukah is really about the battle against Jewish assimilation.  The Greeks did not start a physical war against us, as they were out to destroy not the Jew, but his or her Judaism.  The Maccabees battled against assimilation, and we continue to battle today, and the way to do that is in the home.  And so, we must ignite the flame in our houses.

Judaism must be strongest and brightest within the four walls of one’s home.  If one succeeds, then like the candles on our menorahs, the light will shine brightly from the window for all to see, while providing inspiration and warmth for those inside.  However, if we only light the menorah outside as a ceremonial gesture (albeit a beautiful one), chances are that the light will not translate beyond that event, and will fail to illuminate the next generation.

This is why The House is so critical.  Learning from the unique power of the home, The House shares messages, traditions, and values that are imperative for our generation to appreciate, thereby inspiring us to translate those same ideas and ideals into our own homes (or condos!) and to enrich the families we will one day raise  or already starting to raise.

Centuries ago, Chanukah taught us that the key to continuity is the house.  The House continues to teach that the key to one’s Jewish House is educating the Jewish future so they can build a Jewish home!

If you want to help us keep those Chanukah lights burning bright – in our hearts, in The House, and in our homes – please take a moment and CLICK HERE

Wishing you and your family a Chag Urim Sameach,

— Rabbi Rafi