Chanukah - The Festival of Lights - is a special time at Montefiore, as our residents and their families share Chanukiah lightings and celebrations at each of our campuses, presided over by our Spirutal Dean, Rabbi David Rogut OAM, who also shares his Chanukah message below.
As always, doughnuts and potato latkes will form part of our daily menu during the festival, and we’ll also have special Chanukah treats available at our Randwick and Hunters Hill cafes. Wishing you and your families a Chag Sameach from all at Montefiore.
A Chanukah Message
Rabbi David Rogut OAM, Spiritual Dean
On the Shabbat of Chanukah, we read the weekly sidra of Miketz. In it, Joseph the dreamer interprets someone else’s dreams – those of Egypt’s Pharaoh. Sadly, this became a pattern for future generations. Jewish dreamers, idealists and visionaries have repeatedly interpreted the dreams of others.
This was the case of statesmen Benjamin Disraeli in 19th-Century Britain, Walter Rathenau in Weimar Germany, Leon Blum in pre-World War II France and Leon Trotsky in Russia. In each instance, these well-known leaders submerged their inner selves, suppressed their own Jewish identities and sought to make the dreams of the countries wherein they lived, their own dreams. These great dreamers devoted their lives to interpreting the dreams of others. In each case they were extolled as men of great vision and profound wisdom – just as Pharaoh hailed Joseph. Invariably, however, the acclaim was always followed by a drastic change “when there arose a new ruler who knew not Joseph”.
We read this portion of the Torah with its curious dreams and its wise interpretations during Chanukah, when the Hasmoneans brought about a new interpretation of their own people’s dream of independence. There were Jewish leaders at that time who also sought to identify their dreams with that of the Greeks and Syrians. Men like Jason and Menelaus believed that Hellenisation of the Jewish people and making them part of the Greco-Syrian empire was the wiser path to follow. Surely the Greek civilisation had much to offer. It represented the path to progress and the wave of the future. It was a great dream! Many Jews became Hellenists and devotees of what they believed would bring enlightenment and blessings to their people as well as to the whole empire.
The Maccabees, however, refused to be interpreters of someone else’s dreams. They did not want to give up their own identity. Their dream was the vision of their own prophets – people living in freedom and justice, guided by the spiritual essence of life.
The miracle of Chanukah represents the interpretation and fulfilment of that dream. The brave Maccabees fought for liberation from the rule of Antiochus and from the influence of Hellenism. Hence their victory culminated with the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, the citadel of the people’s spirituality.
Our generation is privileged to live in a period of Jewish history when the spirit of the Hasmoneans has been revived. We now enjoy an independent Israel. We must, though, be ever mindful of the dream of our people which is inextricably tied with the welfare of our spiritual land, Israel. It is not only political and economic independence that we seek. At the heart of the dream is the spiritual independence and moral renaissance of our people. It is in essence the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophetic pronouncement “Not by might and not by power but by G-d’s spirit.”
Vicky and I wish the President, David Freeman AM, the Board of Management, valued residents, staff and volunteers a Chag Sameach.