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    Being Jewish at night

    night moon skyThe story of Judaism begins at night: “And it was evening, and it was morning: one day”.

    The events of Judaism generally happen at night: Seder night, Kol Nidrei night and others which so many Jews brush aside.

    Every week has its Jewish night – Friday night. The time to re-connect with ourselves, our dear ones, our identity, our God.

    Every festival is ushered in at night – not only Pesach and Yom Kippur, but Shavu’ot and Hoshana Rabbah with their night-time study, Sukkot which begins its magic in the sukkah on the first evening, Simchat Torah with its proud Torah parade, Purim with the dramatic megillah, Tishah B’Av with the solemn Echah… and certainly Chanukah with the exciting kindling of the lights each evening.

    There is an aura about evenings.

    The air is clearer, the pace has slowed down, it is a time for looking back on the day – and for looking ahead to tomorrow.

    Metaphorically the evening is also the time of hope.

    We speak of the darkness before the dawn.

    We know that even when night seems to have gone on too long, there will be a new day.

    We sometimes say with the Psalmist, “How long, O Lord? How long?”

    We want to know: why is the dawn taking so long?

    This was our ancestors’ question in the days of Judah Maccabee.

    An enemy imposed a long night on Judea; but in the end the new era did dawn.

    Thanks to that generation, human conscience was re-born.

    If we can live through the night, there will always finally be a new day.

    Without the evenings there is no hope, no faith, no destiny.

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