Ordinary light

Josephus did not call it Hannuka but rather the ‘Festival of Lights’

December 17, 2014 15:09
4 minute read.
Painting by Pepe Fainberg

Painting by Pepe Fainberg. (photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)


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THE FIRST synagogue I ever visited was the Mikveh Israel synagogue in Curaçao, a Caribbean island off the Venezuelan coast. I’d been hired to research the 500-year history of the Sephardi Jews who ended up in Venezuela.

It was summertime. On the beach nearby the sand was warm and golden, echoing the outer walls of the synagogue. The sand on the floor inside was cool and white, as were the walls. The arched open windows were lidded with a cobalt-blue glass, the color the sky would become by the time service was over. Service times varied each week with the sunset. I, a recovering Catholic, had found this charming. At some point during the service, I suddenly felt I could breathe. I realized that I must have been holding my breath for the previous ten years.


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