To all my Jewish friends, Happy Channukah beginning today at sundown. May G-D bless you during this Festival of Lights.
In Israel, the menorahs are all outside as the commandment requires. For my non-Jewish readers (the majority of readers, I assume), the reason that Jews began lighting menorahs inside homes was because of persecution in the Diaspora. Sadly, once Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire (an imperial religion is a distortion of Christianity of heretical proportions–now lasting 16 centuries), much of that persecution came from Christians.
So, I always see Channukah as a reminder of the repentance that the majority of churches still need–repentance from anti-semitism and anti-Jewish supercessionist theologies. Even as we prepare for Christmas this last Sunday of Advent, I hope we will ask G-D for forgiveness for Christian anti-Judaic heretical theologies and centuries of anti-Semitic persecution and work to correct these things in our lives and churches. I hope one day all menorahs can be outside the houses because Jews all over the world will have no fear of open celebration. Amen.
One of the fascinating people we’ve had with us this year is Rabbi Lynne Gottlieb, one of the women to be ordained a rabbi in the history of Judaism. I met her a few years ago when the Fellowship of Reconciliation (see link at the right of this blog) celebrated its 90th birthday at a conference in L.A. Rabbi Gottlieb is the creator of the Muslim-Jewish Peace Walks and I, as a Christian, joined them. Rabbi Lynne’s Hebrew name is Miriam, which is also the first name of my youngest daughter (7). This has delighted my Miriam and she has adopted R. Gottlieb as her rabbi–and has been learning how to write “Miriam” in Hebrew.
R. Gottlieb, along with Hector Arizabotl from Colombia, has been helping us to use theatre to work on peace issues, especially a participatory technique called “theatre of the oppressed.” It has been bitter-sweet that she has helped us focus on the descending spiral of violence in the Middle East just as news reports have reached us of continued fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon –as if the Gaza standoff wasn’t enough.
Another fascinating person is Rev. Elise Elrod–whose full name is Ronald Elise Elrod. She is transgendered and lost her church when she came to terms with this and got corrective surgery to become outwardly female. Her wife, Joanie, has remained married even though they now have no sex life since Joanie is straight and Elise is now asexual. She has incredible humor and has used it to help us begin to understand the situations of the transgendered –very different from the sexual orientation issues of gays, lesbians, and bi-sexuals. I am hoping thatwe can have Elise come speak at my church, Jeff Street in Louisville. For Elise’s fascinating story of transformation from an overweight, conservative, male Southern Baptist minister and former engineer to a thin, liberal, secretary and itinterant preacher, her work in diversity training (IYQYQR or I Like You Like You Are), and information on gender identity disorder and transgendered persons (where, unlike with gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons, the issue has nothing to do with sexual orientation!), see her website: http://www.eliseelrod.com !