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Regardless of the method of rededication, Hanukkah is all about recovering from tragedy.
About the meaning of Hanukah and its message of response to the world in the aftermath of Natural Disasters. This is part of the on-gong series of Divrei Torah being published on the NECHAMA, Jewish Response to Disaster web site and subsequently sent to our e-mail community.
The word Hanukkah means “dedication” and refers to the rededication of the Second Temple following the Macabee Revolution in ancient Israel. Tradition teaches that after the Romans destroyed the Temple, the Macabees had to rebuild and restore it for use as a holy place. Today we celebrate Hanukkah in remembrance of that rededication.
At what point during disaster recovery is rededication possible? When is the rebuilding “done” and home to the family that was displaced? As we all know, a home damaged or destroyed after a disaster can never be made completely whole. There are always irreplaceable items that have been lost - the special toy, a family heirloom, a quilt. Nonetheless, we at Nechama work to help families rebuild so that they can try to re-create that sense of “home.” At some point rededication has to occur – perhaps once the last nail is hammered or the last window is replaced. For Jewish families, the dedication or rededication of a new home often takes place by installing a mezuzah in the doorpost on the front door.
Hanukkah is a meaningful holiday for those of us who support Nechama as it is the holiday of rededication. Regardless of the method of rededication, whether through lighting a menorah in an ancient temple more than 1800 years ago, the placement of a mezuzah today, or the celebration of finally returning home after a natural disaster, the holiday of Hanukkah is all about recovering from tragedy.
Matt Rosenberg is a Rabbinical Student at American Jewish University in California and a Nechama volunteer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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