Shalom. This week, as many of us know–and as most children know–begins Hannukah. The spinning dreidels and the latkes help set the tone for the candle lighting. As you know, we add candles every night. There was discussion in the tradition that we should start with all eight lit and then reduce them one by one each night. Thankfully, the tradition emerged that we add a candle, adding light. I began thinking of how that could be applied to boomers. It is interesting to consider that as we age, we are in the position of adding light to the world, adding the light of experience and knowledge to our own self. As you light each candle, look back on your life, look at the experiences that have formed you, how you have grown and changed, no tonly in physical appearance, but in spiritual awareness. Life’s lessons do that.
We often associate the passing of years with the gaining of wisdom; not wisodm from books per se, rather wisdom gained from life experience. Many years ago, for a book called “To Honor and Respect” (URJ Press), we came across a ritual called “simchat hochmah”. It was a ritual developed to celebrate the acquisition of wisdom when one reaches a milestone of aging; say 70 or 80 or 90 years of age. I could not help but think of this ritual and how it relates to the gradual lighting of candles on the Hannukiah. I could not help but think of the reality that so many gain of having life experience provide the “wisdom” which lights our life. Here is a part of a prayer that was created by the individual and her rabbi to celebrate this “simchat hochmah”:
River of light and truth, You have sustained me these many years and brought me to this place in my life’s journey. Let me look out with
wisdom, from the high ground of my years and experiences, over the terrain of my life….As today I celebrate my life’s continued unfolding
I am awestruck by the wonder of my being. And so I pray that kindness and compassion may be on my lips, that strength and courage may be with
me in my comings and goings, and that I may continue to learn from and to teach those dear to me.
Have a sweet and healthy Hannukah. Shalom and Chag Sameach
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.