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Finding Light In The Darkness Across Faith Traditions

According to Rabbi Burt Viosotzky, professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at Jewish Theological Seminary, "it's the job of any human being created in God's image to add light to the world." Hanukkah "is the quintessential holiday of how to work with darkness," according to Rabbi David Ingber. Speaking in a 4-minute news video prepared for Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, a source for cutting edge reporting at the intersection of religion and culture, Rabbi Visotzky explained that the term Hanukkah means "dedication" and "celebrates the rededication of the Temple after the Jews recaptured it from the Greeks." For Jews, he continued, the message is "we need to re-dedicate ourselves, I think, annually, maybe even daily." Rabbi Jill Hammer said, "Whatever story we tell, the object is designed to have a transformative effect on us. And the transformative effect has to do with bringing light out of darkness." Rabbi Visotzky noted, "on the high holidays, we're meant to be reflective," and if "the measure is 'am I adding light to the world?' and you can answer that 'yes,' then you are in a good place." 

In a featured reflection on Isaiah 2:1-5, Bryan Bibb suggests that the answer to Rabbi Visotzky's question, "am I adding light to the world?" may be found in "hopeful living" that recognizes that the new community, Isaiah's kingdom of God on earth, is "the subject of faith" that only God can bring about; but that people can contribute to it by striving to follow Paul's admonition to "lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light." For fresh ideas on how to celebrate the Christian high holy days, and find ways that emphasize bringing God's light into our dark world at any time of the year, see our feature article, "Ideas and Tips for Advent, Christmas Worship Planning.”

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