I had the pleasure to spend time today with three (of the five) people who are currently studying with me for conversion to Judaism. Their joy in Jewish learning is so inspiring. One theme that was repeated in each conversation was a feeling that each of them expressed – if only they had more time to read more Jewish books, learn more, understand more.  They are awed and also a bit overwhelmed by the scope of possible Jewish subjects that they have just begun to study in these few years of study.

I assured them that their enthusiasm, commitment and introductory learning was quite sufficient for them to come before the bet din to complete their conversion.  And as they each broke into smiles, they talked about spending a lifetime engaged in Jewish learning. I had such joy and satisfaction, knowing that we are welcoming five new members into the Jewish people who will enrich us greatly.

Chanukah, the festival of Dedication, is a time to reflect on what we appreciate most about being Jews. It is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to sacred purpose to live Jewish lives that enrich ourselves, our families, our community, our people and our world.

We are most fully engaged as Jews when we are occupied with Torah study – that is, all of the riches of Jewish learning.  We are most fully nourished by our Jewish heritage when we take advantage of the pleasure of Jewish learning.

I hope we can all have moments like the members of my conversion class, with our thirst for knowledge unquenchable, our enthusiasm for Jewish learning unbounded, and our dedication to being a strong link in the chain of Jewish tradition renewed.

Hag Urim Sameah,

May this Chanukah bring inspiration, joy and light!