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My Holiday Message of Hope & My Appeal for an End-of-the-year

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The Network of Spiritual Progressives

A Project of the Tikkun Community

 Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanze and Eid, Happy New Year!

Dear Robert,

As we enter Chanukah and Christmas, and approach Eid, it’s hard not to
be struck by the theme of re-emerging hope in the face of overwhelming

Ancient peoples in the northern hemisphere had already made this time of
year a moment to celebrate the hope for return of light in the face of
darkness. So precisely around the Winter Solstice they made celebrations
of light to encourage the sun to return to its fullest strength, and to
testify to their faith that it would in fact return.

The genius of Western religions was to move beyond this celebration of
the seasons and to turn this time into a celebration of hope that the
world could be redeemed from its present level of political and economic
perversity. Judaism started this trend with its celebration of
liberation from Egypt, and then with Chanukah it created a
solstice-timed celebration to proclaim that the world would not always
be governed by imperial regimes. The victory of a small band of
guerrillas fighting the overwhelming military might of Seleucid
Hellenistic rule in Judea was taken by the ancient rabbis and turned
into a celebration of hope for a different kind of world. They selected
the reading from Habakuk as the Haftorah for the Sabbath of Chanukah,
with its striking proclamation: “Not by power, and not by might, but by
My Spirit, says the transformative power of the universe.”

This same spirit was picked up by the Christians who identified Jesus’
birth with this same period. What could be a more moving symbol of hope
than the birth of a child to a homeless single woman whose abandonment
by the community forced her to give birth in a field with animals who
seemed to understand her and the hope far better than the people around
her. Of course it would be this very child (what the poet in Psalm 118
calls “the rock discarded by the builders that has become the
cornerstone”) that would grow up to be a high embodiment of the God
energy of the universe, teaching the centrality of love and caring for
others as the essence of Jewish religion, a teaching that then became
the foundation or cornerstone for a whole new religion of hope. Islam
would follow hundreds of years later with its own celebrations of hope
within history.

Taking that religious message seriously, not just as a teaching on the
weekend but as a guide for how to do healing and transformation of our
world, is the mission of Tikkun magazine and the Network of Spiritual
Progressives. If you haven’t done so, you can check out our core vision
at www.tikkun.org/core_vision. We are not blind to the struggles that
lie ahead--in fact, our mission of hope is precisely needed because we
understood full well how much we are up against, with President Bush
still hanging on to a destructive attempt to continue the war in Iraq,
with ecological destruction continuing and accelerating, with the
hatreds and racisms, sexisms, homophobia and xenophobias that grip so
much of the world. We are hopeful, but we are not naive. It is a
seasoned and sophisticated hope that we offer through our approach to
the world.

We need your help to be able to do the work we’ve been doing. We keep
the message of hope alive. We have very limited staff because we have
very limited funds. We really need a group of 500 people to make a
commitment of $1000 a year, 500 to make a commitment of $500 a year, 500
to make a commitment of $250 a year, 1000 people to make a commitment of
$180 a year, and 1000 people to make a commitment of $100 a year. But if
you are someone who can only afford $75 or $50 or $25 or even $15, we
still would appreciate that support. You can give it on line at
www.spiritualprogressives.org or www.tikkun.org or by sending us a check
made out to Tikkun or to The Network of Spiritual Progressives and
mailed to our office, 2342 Shattuck Ave, Suite 1200, Berkeley,
California 94704.

Warm regards for a Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, joyous Kwanze and
Eid and Happy New Year.

Rabbi Michael Lerner

P.S. And if you are looking for a great holiday gift, may we suggest
either a. a gift of time, as suggested in our last email, or b. a
subscription to Tikkun magazine which you can still order in time for
the holidays--at www.tikkun.org (or even better, a guest membership in
the Network of Spiritual Progressives at www.spiritualprogressives.org;
better because they automatically also get Tikkun magazine as part of
the membership benefits).

An important message!