Marvin Repinski: Wishing to know more about Hanukkah

Published 4:47 pm Friday, December 23, 2022

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This essay is my attempt to give light and information on our Jewish and Christian relationships.

Speaking of Jesus, we read, “he invokes the God of Israel — understood in a new way, as father of the abandoned, whom he addresses quite personally as his “Father.”  (Hans Kung in the book “Signposts For the Future”).

In doing research for this essay, several items and views stand out. In a number of books, Jesus being a Jew is not mentioned when reference is made to his birth. History and the stories of Jesus’ ministry was a revelation of God.  Also, it seems, down-played. If mentioned at all, it was that Jesus was informed, taught by his parents, and drew much of his teaching from the Jewish traditions, his heritage. Add to this that “Messiah,” an Old Testament word, is articulated as a promise applied to Jesus, a rich expectation of the Old Testament. My writing this essay is to affirm and remind us as Christians that Jesus was a Jew.

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In this holiday season, it is not only Christmas that is lifted up across the world; and especially in our country the devotion of Christmas is seen in every venue imaginable. But there is also, to be recognized that for people of devout faith in the Jewish celebrations, religious  services and family events are core realities. The rituals connected to Hanukkah, speak, for our attention.

Programs on T.V., special articles in printed forms, and family get-togethers are to be noted. In the book “World Religions,” there is pictured — in beautiful color — a young woman standing behind the Menorah, a lamp stand, lighting each of the nine candles. For many Jews the commemoration in 1967, of the reunification of the city of Jerusalem, is also a time of prayers and gratitude.

Printed in the Minneapolis StarTribune on Dec. 15 was an article, “Hanukkah Desserts to Enjoy All Year.” The preparation of special food of historic memory “goes on for eight gelt-filled nights.” Included in the article, are photographs with the recipes for several desserts. The eight-day festival in December, is to bring the thanksgiving offered by Jews of the time years ago when it is believed that the city of Jerusalem was delivered from the violence of foreign troops.  A Biblical reference is addressed to this time in the Old Testament, Psalm 137:1-6.

A Jewish author often studied with respect and agreement, Abraham J. Heschel, writes in his book “Between God and Man” an appreciation of the linking of Jewish and Christianity.

“Mankind will not perish for want of information — only for want of appreciation.”  When did I last marvel not at what I saw — the Rodin exhibit, Mother Teresa — but that I see; that with a flicker of my eyelids I can span a small world?  Must I grow deaf with Beethoven before I touch my ears with reverence?”  The Jew recalls the eternal mystery of creation:  Blessed be Thou!”

A Jewish philosopher who writes as a deeply religious author, Pinchas Lapida, wrote:  “What divides us are things that divide not only Jews from Christians, but also knowledge from faith.  One thing I know for certain:  that faith in Christ has given millions of Christians a better life — and I would be the last to disturb their faith even if I could of the Messiah comes and then turns out to be Jesus of Nazareth, I would say that I do not know of any Jew in this world who would have anything against it.”  Again quoting from “Signposts for the Future.”

To study the details of the teachings of Jesus and the resources that others and ourselves embrace and practice, the well from which Jesus draws “water” is in the Jewish traditions, primarily known in the Old Testament.

For a person’s serious study, the following texts may expand satisfaction:  Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Psalm 23, Proverbs 15:1, the “Song of Songs,” Joshua 1:17, Ezekiel 1:20, Isaiah 46:9-10, Genesis 4:26, Exodus 20:1-17, 31:1-14, Amos 5:23-24, Leviticus 19:14, Micah 6:8, Psalm 100:1, Deuteronomy 11:19, Psalm 122, 137:1-6, 90, 2, 139, 7-12.

“With rising levels of antisemitism across the world, the need for education and dialogue is acute. Never has it been more important for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to listen to one another and to share one anothers pain.  Contrary to many people’s perception.  Christianity would not be conceivable without Judaism. Since the Holocaust, many Christians have begun a more positive exploration of their Jewish roots.”  (Author Liz Ramsey in the volume “Wold Religions.”