Sunday, December 25, 2005

Holy Handoff

I took a little walk yesterday evening. Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath) was coming to an end. This time is a seam between the secular and the holy and has an odd, sweet feel to it. On Shabbat there are many activities from which I refrain - TV, driving, computers. When it is over, those noises suddenly flood back in (not unwelcomely.)

But yesterday was unique. As I walked around my neighborhood, people were gathering or making last minute preparations for Christmas. It looked just like Friday evening preparations for Shabbat (well except for the wreathes and trees etc.)

Now, as Shabbat ended, the quiet continued as many of my neighbors prepared for the holy day. The seam was still there, but differently.

The handoff continues tonight, when, at sundown, Jews around the world light candles for the beginning of Hanukah. Hanukah remembers the unfortunate collision and conflict between the Jews and the Greeks - two of the most sophisticated ancient civilizations and the pillars of our own civilization. In Christianity, the two combined civilizations melded (with tensions of course) to become something new.

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