Your Shabbat Guest
A little over a week ago, our Bakersfield Kehillah celebrated Shabbat Hanukkah together. It was a great Shabbat – filled with song, teaching, prayer, and celebration. The musings below reflect the many challenges of Jewish life in “small town” California.
Hanukkah is a holiday that emphasizes Jewish survival and the ability of the Jews to overcome adversity and emerge victorious (against all odds). Hanukkah in Bakersfield is NOT like Hanukkah in the Pico-Robertson "hood" of Los Angeles, or New York's Upper West Side. The Jews of Bakersfield represent a tiny minority in a population of nearly 400,000. These Jews appreciate those occasions that bring them together. Those that choose to affiliate come from miles around to do so.
As shared in an earlier post, making a Minyan throughout Shabbat is an ongoing effort. Calls are made to each and every household on our congregational mailing list. These calls are followed up by a weekly e-bulletin that announces the start time for services – and any special happenings over the coming weekend.
On the Friday night of Shabbat Hanukkah, we gathered as a community of nearly thirty for an evening that included Kabbalat Shabbat and a magnificent Oneg Shabbat – hosted by a special family that was marking the conclusion of Kaddish for a loved one. During our Friday evening study, we talked about two versions of the Hanukkah story – one presented by the Books of Maccabees, and one anchored in the Miracle of the Oil. We concluded that as significant as the military victory was, it is the oil lasting eight days that “carries the day.”
The matter in which we light the Hanukkah lights was discussed … and I am pleased to report that our Kehillah is very much in line with the thinking of Bet Hillel – lighting one candle on the first night … and building up to eight on the last night!
Yes, Hanukkah in Bakersfield is different. All of the holidays are different. Every Shabbat is different. Our community is very much aware that it takes a minimum of ten to make a “davening” community (Minyan). We are working on this weekly … and are determined to make it work!
Happy “post-Hanukkah” to all!