Wrapping up on Chanukah and looking forward to upcoming events in 2015

Regarding current events, this certainly wasn’t the way that I had hoped to start off the secular new year. So before we get into that, allow me to recap on Chanukah 5775.

The Chanukah candles burn low and this printout explains Chag HaBanot / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

I spent a fair bit of the holiday at home, as I was slowly unpacking my new condo. But I did make it out to two larger events in the Jewish community—a celebration with the Sixth & I’s Not Your Bubbe’s Sisterhood and a lighting/civil rights vigil at Adas Israel.

The Sisterhood event, as led by Rabbi Sarah Tasman, chronicled Chag HaBanot, the Festival of Daughters, which was celebrated in North African countries on the seventh night of Chanukah. It’s also a commemoration of the story of Judith, who through subterfuge killed a general in an enemy army. A similar concept to the story of the Maccabees, which is the story of Chanukah proper.

Although we had our event on the second night of Chanukah, traditionally it’s celebrated on the seventh. As a group we lit our entire menorahs, stopping at each candle to reflect on various women—teachers, leaders, family members. There were around 20-30 women in attendance and it was such a nice environment of camaraderie. I look forward to attending more Sisterhood events in the future!

Congregants stand vigil for the Adas Israel civil rights solidarity Chanukah lighting / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

On the next night of Chanukah I was on the steps of Adas Israel for Light Up the Darkness! A Chanukah Solidarity Gathering for Civil Rights and Human Life. As led by Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, we sang Hebrew prayers and “This Little Light Of Mine,” specifically invoking the protests in Ferguson and the recent deaths of unarmed Black men. After the candle lighting, some members of the community took signs and stood on the sidewalk near the synagogue for a short vigil.

Disregard for human life, unfortunately, is a global issue, as recent events in Paris have shown. The deadly attack on the Charlie Hedbo newspaper, presumably over the publication of offensive images of the Prophet Muhammad, culminated in the murder of four Jewish men on the eve of Shabbat at a Kosher market, baruch dayan emet. As the French Jewish community and the one worldwide react to this news, some organizations in DC are organizing community events to commemorate this tragedy. Please feel free to comment with those not listed here!

Tuesday, January 13
Adas Israel and American Jewish Committee’s Gathering of Solidarity and Remembrance, 7:30 pm.

Wednesday, January 14
Sixth & I’s Solidarity Minyan in the Face of Anti-Semitism and Extremism, 6:45 pm.

And coming up after is Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend! Check out these events:

Friday, January 16
Sixth & I and Turner Memorial AME Church’s MLK Shabbat, 7 pm.

Washington Hebrew Congregation’s MLK Service with the President and CEO of the NAACP, 7:30 pm.

Monday, January 19
DCJCC’s Day of Service, 10 am.

Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Day of Service, 10 am.

Tuesday, January 20
DCJCC’s Joachim Prinz: I Shall Not be Silent, 7:30 pm.

Adas Israel’s MLK Weekend:
Friday, January 16: Shabbat Services with Hilary O. Shelton, Director of NAACP’s Washington Bureau
Saturday, January 17: Shabbat sermon by Avis Buchanan, Director of the Public Defender Service, followed by a panel discussion
Sunday, January 18: Service at the People Congregation United Church of Christ