Celebrating Our Double Chai

After a challenging year, it is time to celebrate. In January 2021, we mark the 36th anniversary of our first Shabbat Service together. Thirty-six years ago, this month, we inaugurated and dedicated Temple Beth Or – our House of Light.
Chai” is the Hebrew word for life and has the numerical equivalent of 18. Thus 36 is double life! The number bears additional significance in Judaism. Tradition has it that the light God created on the first day shone for precisely 36 hours. It was the light of discernment, which was then replaced by the lesser light emanating from the sun, moon, and stars. Judaism teaches that the world depends on the Lamed Vav (36) righteous individuals hidden in our midst. Finally, there are 36 candles kindled by the shamash over Hanukkah’s eight-day festival of light and Temple rededication.
Unfortunately, this year, when we gather, it will not be in our Temple building. Who could have imagined that 36 years, 1,872 Sabbaths, 3,744 Shabbat candles, 13,149 days, 432 board meetings later, we would be celebrating our Temple from our homes online? Like everyone, I miss our building. But much more, I miss the handshakes and the hugs, the conversations over an Oneg Shabbat, and the ability to sing together. I long for the time when we can sing in unison and feel each other’s hugs.
And yet, there are benefits to celebrating online. On Zoom, we’ve welcomed out of town guests from around the country, former Temple members who have moved far away, and those who had challenges getting to our synagogue for Shabbat Services. A beautiful quarantine meme states: “My synagogue is open. It is open every day because my synagogue is not a building. It is the people who are helping each other and their community. It is the prayers for those who are struggling medically, financially, and emotionally. My synagogue never closed. It just opened in every home.”
And so let us enthusiastically gather to rededicate our Temple from our homes this Double Chai 36th Anniversary Service Friday, January 29 at 6:30 p.m. Let’s celebrate all of the Jewish life and light which has emanated from our congregation over these decades. Let us hear from former members and Temple graduates. Most of all, let us celebrate twice the life, twice the love and twice the light that is Temple Beth Or.