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Hope you are enjoying Hanukkah!
Come Out of Your Closet
Rabbi Baruch HaLevi
When we talk about “coming out of the closet” immediately we think of sexuality and “coming out” to others about being gay. The truth, however, is that there are all kinds of “closets” and so many ways we are forced into the closet, whatever that closet may be.
There’s, of course, the sexuality closet, hiding our sexuality from others for fear of being shunned, shamed or harmed.
There’ s the religious closet, hiding our religion for fear of persecution, or judgment or disdain.
There’s the addiction closet, hiding our addiction (alcohol, drugs, food, sex) living in the shadows, living half-truths, living a lie for fear of being found out.
There’s the marriage closet, hiding our broken or abusive marriage from the sight of others, not telling our family, our friends, pretending that everything is fine.
There’s the illness closet, hiding our illness from family, friends or community not wanting to be a burden or scared to confront the reality of what we are facing.
There’s the political closet, hiding our politics when we feel we are a lone voice and will be made to feel unwelcome if we use our voice and speak our truth.
The list of closets goes on. Not all closets are the same but what is the same is the fear, isolation and lack of integrity we feel for hiding in them.
If we are to live a life of authenticity, fearlessness and connection - eventually we must throw open that door and come out of the closet once and for all. This is one more reason why we need Chanukah. It is a holiday all about coming out of the closet.
Chanukah, after all, is about identity. It’s about the Maccabees refusing to live in the closet (caves) because they were Jews. It’s about their refusal to succumb or bow down to the expectations or demands of their oppressor. It’s about their courage to stand up to a bully. It’s about deciding for themselves, not allowing another to decide for them, who they are, what they are, how they will live and what they will be.
And Chanukah is a reminder that there is something worse than confrontation or battle; there is something worse than loss of relationship, something even worse than death. Chanukah is a reminder that to live in the closet, to hide who we really are, our identity, our essence for fear of being found out, rejected or even killed is not a complete life and certainly no way to live.
This is why we do not place the menorah on our kitchen table with the shades drawn shut. Rather, we are duty bound to place those lights in the window. We are obligated to throw open those shades and proclaim to the world - this is who I am, this is my light,! Look upon or not but this is my light and I’m here to stay.
So, light your menorah.
Throw open your closet doors.
“Pirsumet haNisah”, we say in Hebrew - “publicize the miracle” by placing your light in the window to shine forth for the whole world to see.
The neighbors don’t like it? The community your in doesn’t accept it? The world around you rejects it? So, what!
You are a Maccabbee - a warrior of light.
This is who you are. This is why you are here. This is your battle so go on and shine your light. And as you do, you’ll inspire other Maccabee soldiers to come out of the closet and join you in the fight.
This is how we will win the war and transform the darkness into light. This is the miracle of Chanukah.
You are the miracle of Chanukah.
Thank you for your light.
Rabbi Baruch HaLevi
Rabbi B is co-author of the new book: Revolution of the Jewish Spirit: How to Revive Ruakh in Your Spiritual Life, Transform Your Synagogue & Inspire Your Jewish Community [Paperback & Kindle] Rabbi Baruch HaLevi and Ellen Frankel, Jewish Lights Publishing (September 30, 2012)
Read more: http://blogs.boston.forward.com/jewish-journaling/182199/chanukah-fifth-night-coming-out/#ixzz2mF8K85aq
Come and tour Temple Beth Shalom Preschool. All denominations welcome. We are a staff of professionally educated and dedicated teachers. We learn and have fun together. Call Leslie Williams @ 978-535-0548
Presents Versus Presence
Rabbi Baruch HaLevi
Indeed the holidays are upon us. For those who celebrate Chanukah we’re already knee high into the gifts (eight nights, four kids, I can barely do the math let alone pay for all the presents). For those who celebrate Christmas though, you fortunately have a few weeks left, indeed, Black Friday (sounds way cooler than it is) has arrived. So whether you’re drowning in presents or dreading the presents, now might be the perfect time to step back and remember the opportunity those presents present.
Thinking back upon my past 328 days of Chanukah (you do the math this time); I can only remember a handful of presents. There was the Atari (what a blessing), the Apple II (what a curse). I vaguely remember a Walkman, a Red Rider BB gun (or was that a movie) and for some odd reason Chia Pets embarrassingly ring a bell. Other than that it’s pretty much a big blurry heap of wrapping paper and broken toys.
Things come and go. What was once a must have is now just an embarrassing memory (think Cabbage Patch doll craze). What doesn’t come and go, what is not forgotten, what lives on long after the presents are gone, however, are not the gifts but the gift givers. They are the real makers of those memories, the bestowers of those presents, the giver of true gifts. Long after the Atari is at the bottom of the trash heap (to bad, big bucks on Ebay) the memories not just of the gift but of the giver stay with us for years, decades even generations to come. This is why we must remember during this crazed holiday season that it isn’t just about the presents we give but the presence we give. That is the true gift and one too often overlooked.
When Moses was called by God to ascend Mt. Sinai the Torah says “Adonai said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain “veyeheh sham’ - and be there’” (Ex 24:12). To which Dr. Alan Morinis asks, “If Moses had come up the mountain, why did God also have to tell him to ‘be there’? Because it is possible to expend great effort in climbing a mountain, even to stand before God, but still not be there!” If Moses can stand in front of God and not be present certainly those of us further down the mountain must pay extra attention to being present lest we become lost in the illusion presents present.
We can stand in line all day on Black Friday as we shop for presents, We can sit at that Thanksgiving table while our mind is still at the office, We can spend all day putting together impossibly difficult unassembled toddler toys, We can show up at the Chanukah party with a bundle of boxes for others, We can sit with friends around the Christmas tree sipping our egg nog (much better than Manischewitz), We can make it through this wonderful holiday season, We can trudge through this remarkable journey of life, all the while missing the sights, the sounds, missing the magic, miracles and mistletoe because we were focused on presents when what we should have focused on was presence.
What our children, our grandchildren, our spouse, nieces, nephews, siblings, family and friends want, certainly what they need, is not only to show up to share stuff but to share soul, not just bearing gifts but bearing our heart, not merely presenting the presents but there, fully, consciously and lovingly presenting the ultimate present of presence.
May each of us be blessed with the ability to be mindful, to pay attention, to be present each and every step of the glorious climb up the mountain. This is the greatest present of all.
Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
My New Book: Revolution of the Jewish Spirit: How to Revive Ruakh in Your Spiritual Life, Transform Your Synagogue & Inspire Your Jewish Community [Paperback & Kindle] Rabbi Baruch HaLevi and Ellen Frankel, Jewish Lights
Read more: http://blogs.boston.forward.com/jewish-journaling/182195/chanukah-second-night-black-friday-presence/#ixzz2m9BBlahp
Happy Hanukkah to all our readers!
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Special Guest Ilian Yurukov Poet
Changing lives of Women by giving them the necessary tools to become what they want in life. It is pivotal to have a good exampless from women who have been in a difficult situation and made it to the top. http://www.diannabellerose.wordpress.com/ http://www.authordiannabellerose.blogswpot.com/ http:/...
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Iliyan Yurukov Interview of the Poet Ilyana Yurukova (Gallery city of Lod Israel) with a leading blogtalkradio Dianna Bellerose (Seattle America)! 08/11/13
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Iliyan Yurukov Nelia Yurukova and Ilian Yurukov members of one family. Ilian Yurukov pediatrician and Nelia Yurukova philosopher .
Drew attention to the esteemed readers of the Analects " Ring of Solomon " , which highlights the problems of being in poetic form. Examines the relationship between the traditions and customs of many nations . Thank you for your assistance. We wish you good luck in everything and always ! Be healthy . The book was published in English under the auspices of the American writer Dianna Bellerose. You can buy the book at these LINC ! Gallery!
Check out The Jewish Advocate and Jewish Journal MA for their wonderful articles about our recent Yom Chesed.