I am fueled every single day by the miracle of hanukat ha-bayit, the dedication of the house, as I recite Psalm 30, which is included in the Ashkenazi daily liturgy and is my favorite psalm. In the Sephardi liturgy, this psalm is recited for Hanukkah; the house in the title is understood to refer to the Temple, dedicated by the Maccabees after their victory. I prefer to think of the house not as a physical structure but as a metaphor for the human spirit. The miracle of hanukat ha-bayit that fuels my soul is not a single cruse of oil lasting eight days. It’s the divine spark that allows human beings to lie down at night in tears and awaken with shouts of joy at dawn. Each of us is the house that we can dedicate anew every day. I awaken energized every morning before sunrise and walk around my neighborhood quietly singing Psalm 30. This is how I experience the miracle of hanukat ha-bayit each day: dedicating my house to the service of God and the Jewish people, to the house of friends where I am privileged to serve, and to the bridge we’ve built to meet the unaffiliated who seek to fuel their spirits and rekindle the flames of Jewish tradition.
Pamela Gottfried serves as a rabbi with Congregation Bet Haverim and Your Jewish Bridge. She dedicates her free time to ceramics and walking her dogs.