Three and a half years ago when Congregation Beth Hatikvah moved into our new synagogue home, the .7-mile trek from our previous rented space brought us just across the Passaic River, making us now residents of the town of Summit. Suddenly, we were part of a new community, with both the Summit Interfaith Council and the Summit synagogue community. The Reform and Conservative congregations in town warmly welcomed us and celebrated the opportunity to share community with us, the new Reconstructionist congregation.

We have been enjoying friendship and joint programming for the past couple of years. One of our now-annual events is an outdoor Chanukah menorah lighting, rotating each year to be held at one of our synagogues. We share a large outdoor menorah that travels from shul to shul for the event. This was the third year, and our first as hosts.

I admit that the 10 foot tall menorah on our front lawn did evoke some strong emotional reactions from our members, both negative and positive. But one thing was certain today – the menorah lighting and Chanukah singing was a very sweet experience. It confirmed that best of what it means to be a whole and united Jewish community, enjoying our mutual celebration of Chanukah as one people. At the oneg (celebration) that followed, I looked around our Chanukah-decorated social hall and observed the members of our three synagogue communities enjoying the festivities together, and I was filled with warmth and delight.

We Jews sometimes forget to enjoy the fruits of our shared treasure of Jewish peoplehood. We divide up and secure our part of the Jewish turf, and remain there. And worse, we sometimes squander it by competition and dispute. But a spirit of Jewish pluralism is healthy and enriching for all of us.

How fortunate that Temple Sinai, the Summit JCC and Congregation Beth Hatikvah, all of Summit, have embraced our pluralism.

May this Chanukah be a force for rededication to the Jewish people, that the blessing of belonging to this remarkable community is shared and nurtured.

Hag Urim Sameah,
May the light of Chanukah be filled with joy.