Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hanukkah 2012, 2013, 2014: A Reflection

It is December 16 2014, and I am sitting in the GS lounge, and thinking, reflecting. Yes, I am doing that not so often.
I just submitted my last final paper. To elaborate a bit on that: I just finished my first semester at Columbia University School of General Studies. It was a rough semester, but I survived, and thrived. I am sitting and reflecting, and feel like crying. I am not the biggest crying emoji, but I cannot keep myself right now.
I just double-checked; the first time I walked onto Columbia University's campus, was exactly a year ago, December 16, 2013. I came here to join Community Impact at Columbia University’s adult education program. I was an academic invalid at that time, with no education at all. If someone would have told me then that in just a year I would finish my first semester as a Columbia student, I would not even laugh. It felt like a great Sci-Fi movie. Walking onto Columbia's campus made me realize how far I was from succeeding in life, how uneducated I am, and how stupid I am.
Now I am here. Science fiction is a reality.
Today is also a very special day in another calendar. A calendar which two years ago I was sure that I will never follow it again. It is the first night of the Jewish "Festival of Light" (I love this modern name), Hanukkah.
Hanukkah is an interesting holiday. As much as I was convinced growing up that it symbolizes the victory of tradition over progression, I am now confident that it is almost the opposite. As much as rabbinical Judaism might try to deny it, they initially hated Hanukkah (for several reasons, going from disagreeing to Jews fighting, to the fact that the Maccabees were very far from the Pharisees). Hanukkah to me is not fighting progressive Judaism, but rather embracing and combining tradition with progressive and humanistic Judaism. That is in short who I am, and what I am today.
The main message I take with me into this year Hanukkah, and hopefully out of it, into the rest of my life, is also a combination. The combination of the holiday and my status in life at Columbia University. And here is what I mean: Rabbi David Ingber mentioned last Friday night  that the 'miracle' of Hanukkah was not so much the supposed miracle of oil burning eight days (that in the eyes of these who don't believe in superstition - never happened). However, rather the miracle was that they looked for light. Searching for light itself is the biggest miracle that can happen to humanity.
This is what I feel right now; my own Hanukkah miracle is that when I reflect on where I am today compared to a year, and two years ago - I realize what the power of humanity is:
It does not matter what our status in life is. As long as we are searching for light, we will find it. Now that is worth celebrating, big time.

Happy Hanukkah!!!