Here is my latest holiday article. I hope it provides meaning during this holiday weekend.
Nov. 25, 2013 |
Bryan Kinzbrunner, chaplain of the Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living, in the Somerset section of Franklin, is pictured with Wilf resident Bobby Rosenstraus on a recent trip to Israel. / PHOTO COURTESY OF WILF CAMPUS FOR SENIOR LIVING
Rabbi Bryan Kinzbrunner
Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living, Franklin (Somerset)
As I was walking around Ben Gurion airport in Israel an hour before my return flight home, looking for something to purchase for my two young children, I happened upon a pile of dreidels, the special spinning top Jews have played with during Hanukkah for centuries. On the dreidel is written four Hebrew letters, Nun, Gimmel, Hey and either Shin or Peh. The letters stand for the phrase, a great miracle happened here/there. Throughout most of the world, the miracle is seen as something that happened there, in another land. However, standing in Israel, the dreidel says to us, the miracle happened right here, right in this land.
The Hanukkah miracle in the year 167 BCE was the Hasmonean defeat of the Seleucid Greeks, a little band defeating a grand army. Hanukkah was an instance of David defeating Goliath. The great miracle is the overcoming of insurmountable odds. As I am standing there purchasing two Israeli dreidels for my boys, I began thinking about another miracle, one which occurred one year prior.
Last November, days after Hurricane Sandy, The Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living in Somerset, where I work, began a miraculous journey of its own. Nine staff members of our campus accompanied 12 seniors on a tour of Israel. For many, this was their first time traveling to Israel, the birthplace of Western religion. For others, it was the miracle of travelling internationally again at such an advanced age. Either way, it was truly something that left a mark on each and everyone’s heart and soul.
Personally, while I have been fortunate to have traveled to Israel many times and to have spent a year of study in Israel, this was truly a different and special time. Accompanying Holocaust survivors, people of different faiths and my colleagues and residents to places that have inspired me, offered me new and different eyes through which to see Israel.
Living in the United States, the commemoration of Thanksgiving is a holiday along the same lines. It is a day of gratitude celebrating the founding of a free nation. While no nation and no miracle can be seen in a vacuum, as both Hannukah and Thanksgiving have stories surrounding the days which raise fundamental questions, the commonality of being grateful for the miracle in the moment, is worthy of celebration. And this year, in a once-in-a-lifetime calendrical event, Jews in the United States get to celebrate both miracles together.
May each and every one find gratitude during this time of year for all we have, all we have opportunity to do and for the miracle of life and living in a world where we can see with our own eyes where the great miracles of history happened.
Rabbi Bryan Kinzbrunner is the campus chaplain for The Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living, which comprises The Martin and Edith Stein Assisted Living, The Lena and David T. Wilentz Senior Residence, The Martin and Edith Stein Hospice, Wilf Transport , Wilf at home, and the Foundation at the Wilf Campus. For more information, call 888-311-5231, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wilfcampus.org.