It was Hanukkah 2016 -- DJJ’s 2nd Festival of Rights. Home visiting from college, I was delighted to find a growing progressive community dedicated to lifting up Jewish diversity. I was hooked.
Like the ancient rabbis, I am ambivalent about celebrating the story of Hanukkah. The Maccabees’ oppression of other Jews reminds me of the ways we marginalize each other today. In too many Jewish spaces, a narrow conception of Jewishness dictates who is in and who is out, who receives care and support, and whose needs are passively neglected or, at worst, actively rejected.
DJJ seeks to honor the variety of backgrounds and perspectives through which we encounter our shared tradition. This year, we’re rededicating ourselves to that work through building community by and for Jews of Color and by working with partner synagogues on Racial Justice education. These threads intersect through engaging, timely programs rooted in Jewish learning and contemporary movements, like the recent online events Black Lives Matter Havdalah & Teach-In and Tisha B’Av for Black Lives, each drawing more than 200 participants.
Four years after my first encounter, I am grateful my passion for building community and power among Jews of Color has found a home at DJJ.
Hanukkah means “rededication,” and that’s what inspires me about this time of year. Dedication means more than signing onto letters and making statements. It’s about actualizing those commitments in our communities. It’s about shifting power and leaning into our own agency. This season is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to bringing about a more just world.