Beginning on Sunday night, we will light the Chanukiah, and the light will grow each night. The growing light of the Menorah symbolizes our individual and collective growth as well. As we keep alive the light in every generation, we also keep alive our hope for a personal and communal future even brighter than our past.

On this Chanukah, let me share a little bit about how I believe I have grown as a rabbi since arriving at Temple Sinai, Reno two and a half years ago.

First of all, I have learned a lot about leadership and specifically, the need to listen and grow consensus before we take a stand on any potentially controversial social justice issue as a community. That does not mean we will always agree, but that there is a clear process in place, which everyone knows and can feel party to. I have learned about the power of bringing people together for immersive experiences, so far mostly with families, and how better to foster relationships throughout the year within demographic communities of the Temple. I am learning about the need to offer adult education on areas where there are particular gaps in people’s knowledge and understanding. The Engaging Israel: Foundations of Israeli Society that begins in January is a response to a perceived need for education and engagement about Israel. I have learned a lot about collaborative leadership and aligning a community around a shared vision. And I have learned about aspects of the community that still need healing and attention: the need to mix generations more effectively; how to facilitate and create safe spaces for conversation; and the need to empower volunteers outside of the board to lead. This often means me and the president stepping back to create room for committee chairs and volunteers to thrive. Finally, I have learned about surrounding oneself with the right people whose skills are different than my own, to help and assist and further the work of the Temple. The new Ritual Committee starting this month will be a strong step in that direction as I believe this group will add to the vitality of our holiday programming, the effectiveness of our services and the richness our Shabbat culture.

As we light the menorah this Chanukah, please share with your families and loved ones ways in which you have grown this year. May our light of self-knowledge grow every day and year of our lives, that we may become more and more effective in radiating the light of our values in the world. There is holiness in growth and in light. Grow your light!

Chag Urim sameach, Happy Chanukah!
Rabbi Bair