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Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Happy New Year
Text "We take upon ourselves and into ourselves these promises:
To care for the earth and those who live upon it.
To pursue justice and peace
To love kindness and compassion"
Marcia Faulk ( Jewish poet, liturgist, painter, scholar and translator who has written several books of poetry and prayer.)
h/t Society for Humanistic Judaism
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
A perspective on identity, global Judaism, diversity, intersectionality, and unity and what the Hebrew language and Israel have to do with it.
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
I love Havdalah, the brief traditional ritual that marks the end of Shabbat and the old week and announces the beginning of a new week. Like all traditional Jewish rituals, it centers on designated brachot, specifically the four blessings on wine, the aromas of spices, the light of fire, and finally the blessing on separation itself. Indeed, the ritual is all about separation.

Seeing ourselves as enlightened, 21st-century people, we generally don't think of separation as something good. Except for when it is, of course. Like when identity caucuses separate from the larger group for life-sustaining mutual support. But we generally aim for or at least hope for integrated work and social spaces.

But Havdalah is about returning something that has been separated out back into the whole for the good of the whole. Shabbat has come to an end. A new week is beginning. The fourth and final blessing of Havdalah celebrates separations and distinctions between the holy and the profane, light and dark, Israel and the other nations, between the seventh day and the six days of the week.

Like every tradition, we have to do some wrestling with this one. Many of us postmodern people don't take such a dualistic approach to any part of our life. We see light and dark as interpenetrating, rather than as strictly separate. We see the nations of the world in less oppositional ways. And our contemporary schedules rarely allow us to so fully separate the activities of the week from the activities of Shabbat as once was normative. It takes work to think our way through Havdalah today.

But Havdalah is very sense-based. We see the light, we smell the spices, we taste the wine, we extinguish the light and heat of the flame of the Havdalah candle. Maybe we overthink it if we worry about precise meanings or how our understanding of the world differs from our ancestors' worldview.

Whatever it means to you and however you reorganize and rescript the words to bring your understanding and tradition into proximity, Havdalah typically ends with singing "Eliyahu Hanavi," the same song that is sung at the Passover Seder, and "Shavua Tov," a song that wishes a good week to those who hear it. Putting these two at the end of a ritual about separation reminds us that the liberation, which is inherent in the best meanings of Shabbat, must be brought into the week by changing the world for good, and that the world can be made better.

Maybe a messiah such as Eliyahu the Prophet is said to usher in is too problematic a concept. But making the world better is a key ethical touchstone in this tradition that touches our reality.

Shavua tov! Have a good week! Let us spread liberation far and wide!
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Do join us for UUJA's service, tonight, Friday Dec 11, 2020, at 7:00 Eastern, for Shabbat and Hanukkah! Motzi will follow, so bring a product of the grape, and Challah or your staff of life! Here is the Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/94181139447
Zoom bombing is a thing, so please share the link with prudence!

Order Of Service:

Welcome: Arthur Thexton
Hanukkiah lighting: Robin Kottman
Song: Ocho Kandelikas
Torah portion: Genesis 37:1-40:23--Arthur Thexton
Reading: 1 Maccabees The Rev. Paul Oakley
Sermon: “Lights of Freedom” by The Rev. Jay Wolin
Song: Light one Candle, #221 in the UU hymnal
Mourner’s Kaddish
Benediction: Rev. Wolin
MOTZI: Rev. Oakley
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Rev. Joanna Lubkin, a Unitarian Universalist minister of Jewish background, shares the ritual of lighting the Chanukah candles for Sunday, December 13, 2020. (Provided with permission) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82UxjMGCkvM&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR181I4a7EAMtUymT2JiMkEvzR3649UVCkMefY4Y73YiHBNnJ8GXylE497s
Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness
Chanukah Candle-Lighting for UU Services - Sunday, 12/13/2020
Rev. Joanna Lubkin, a Unitarian Universalist minister of Jewish background, shares the ritual of lighting the Chanukah candles for Sunday, December 13, 2020.
youtube.com