December 19, 2019

There’s a Here- Here

Robert Lichtman Chief Jewish Learning Officer

For as long as our collective memory can recall, we have been playing dreidel, winning and losing according to the letters on the four-sided top with the nun (nes), gimel (gadol), hey (haya) and shin (sham) — a Great Miracle Happened There. “There” refers to the land of Israel where our ancestors rose up and re-established the last independent Jewish state until the rise of modern Israel.

For almost 2,000 years we would all spin the dreidel and recall the miracle that happened long ago and far away.

But for the last century or so, our family in Israel has been playing with a dreidel that has a letter pay for po (meaning here), instead of the shin for sham (meaning there). The great miracle that Jews all over the world celebrate happened on the very ground on which Israeli children play every day. We find ourselves within two simultaneous realities because our there is their here. Different words. Same place.

This week, Federation friends throughout Greater MetroWest are receiving lovely Hanukkah wishes featuring an illustration of dreidels — the ones with the pay, not the shin. There’s a double message embedded in this.

The pay (here) is an expression of solidarity with our sisters and brothers throughout the State of Israel: We share every step you take. We rejoice in the celebration of the miracle that occurred bayamim hahaym, so long ago, as well as the miracles that take place ba’z’man hazeh, in these times, every single day.

The pay on the dreidel also represents the miracles that occur po — right here in Greater MetroWest. Miracles are awesome events that claim our attention; how can we not celebrate that here, po, we have a vibrant, thriving Jewish community, built on centuries of Jewish tradition and facing our future with creativity, optimism, and the magnificent investments of thousands of people connected with and through our Federation?

Miracles require vision, persistence, and hope. We have those ingredients po – here – in abundance. In the darkest days, we Jews never lose sight that deep miraculous potential exists in our world. Our mission is to extract that potential, to draw the miraculous from our imaginations, and to forge a new reality.

That is what happens here – po – in Greater MetroWest. Every day.

Happy Hanukkah!