Each night of Hanukkah you will receive a blessing from a fellow alum straight to your inbox. These 8 blessings will serve as reminders of the kind of analysis you did during your Corps year, and the types of reflections you have continued to do on your journeys as Jewish agents for social change. Happy Hanukkah!

Human Determination or God's Saving Spirit? 
In Seasons Of Our Joy, Arthur Waskow discusses the discrepancy between the Rabbinic and Maccabean approaches to the commemoration of Hanukkah.  The Rabbis disapproved of the Maccabees revolt and therefore left it out of their Talmudic conversation. They viewed Hanukkah as a celebration of God's saving spirit which requires contemplation and personal reflection.  The Maccabees however set aside Hanukkah as a day to recognize human determination, courage and their role as change-makers in history. (there are differences of opinion regarding the Maccabees intentions and revolutionary actions) Waskow challenges us to resolve or harmonize this contradiction. 
Rethink and VAYLA are two New Orleans youth organizations (current and former AVODAH placements) where young people are determining the change they want to see in their schools. They are standing up and speaking out to the leadership to make that change a reality.  As I witness the powerful work of these passionate youth leaders and staff, I see a harmony emerge. Thoughtful reflection and self-evaluation is critical to support and nurture the actions we take to combat injustice in our communities and beyond. 
Just as the first Hanukkah began an eight day re-dedication of the desecrated Temple, we can use the eight days of Hanukkah as a time to deeply reflect on the difficult justice work we have been involved with, celebrate the victories we have witnessed and ultimately reinvest in the ongoing struggle with renewed inspiration and determination. 

Yaeli Bronstein (NOLA 08-09) from Teaneck, NJ graduated from Brandeis University and worked at the New Orleans Women's Shelter. Yaeli currently works part-time as an Intake Specialist at the Louisiana Civil Justice Center in New Orleans conducting intake for low-income folks seeking legal assistance. Yaeli is also studying American Sign Language Interpreting, working towards Doula certification, and starting a calligraphy business.

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