I pray that you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. As I write this, Chanukkah has just finished but I wanted to share a story with you that I read about and wished I had witnessed.
On Dec 18th, a menorah parade commenced, (not people carrying ‘live’ menorahs with real candles) but a car parade with menorahs on their roofs, akin to a Dominos sign. The cars, with lit, plastic rooftop menorahs, lined up and drove from the rabbinical college in Morristown, down Route 10 to Pleasant Valley Way to the Chabad center in West Orange. The menorah car parade, (some 60 cars) was escorted by the Morris and Essex County Sheriff’s departments as well as police officers from each of the local towns. It ended with a Hanukkah celebration with donuts, and other goodies which is part and parcel to the Hanukkah tradition.
When I read the article, I immediately assumed the parade was in response to a number of credible antisemitic threats that were issued by the Morris County Sherriff’s office as well as larger regional bodies. Not entirely, but this parade was inclusive of these threats.
Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum, CEO of Friendship Circle, who is the founder of this event, said “The message of Hanukkah is especially meaningful this year. With all the challenges and strife around the world, the lights of the Menorah inspire us to add light and kindness to dispel darkness and hate. The public Hanukkah celebrations are about sharing this light and joy with the broader community and the entire New Jersey.”
The article goes on to say that: “The Car Menorah Parade is part of a worldwide campaign that helps to tell the story of the Hanukkah miracle AND Hanukkah is the Hebrew word for dedication.
What a wonderful way to re-think how to sustain and grow a faith community in the face of visible and invisible threats and challenges.
While the whole church has also faced challenges, (though certainly nothing comparable to the recent threats of hostility and terrorism), we are still facing a large challenge as to how to sustain and grow our faith community and continue to make it relevant.
This is a tall order and yet, it is evident that we have a distinct advantage. SO many of you have been SO dedicated and SO faithful in and through the worst of Covid. For that, I thank you.
As we seek to find our way to the next chapter, we are seeking EVERY VOICE to participate in the Church-wide Planning retreat Jan 29th, 10-1PM. This is a follow-up to our retreat last fall, which gave a great running start for recommitting to growing this faith community.
This retreat will be led by an outside, but known and trusted leader in our Presbytery, our Stated Clerk the Rev Dr. Steve Shussett. He is a trained retreat leader, spiritual director and brings a unique background, perspective and education. He will help us discern and plan where we want to go in the next few years, including where we are being called and what our priorities are.
I hope and pray as we seek our future together that you will do whatever you can to be present on Jan 29th as well as every event we have planned in 2023.
Who knows what kind of roof moniker we could come up with?
Seeking to add light and dispel darkness future with you,