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From Our Federation

A Time for Renewal: An Update from Zach Benjamin

As we reflect the upcoming eight nights of Chanukah, the Jewish world focuses on themes of gratitude and renewal.

The word “Chanukah” literally means “rededication.” As Jews, it reminds us that new beginnings lift the spirit, recharge the soul, and provide us with renewed energy and perspective. As Americans, we are thankful for the people and experiences that have led us through another year of life and for the lessons—both joyful and challenging—that helped us grow and that prepared us for the year ahead.

After roughly 100 days as executive director of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico, I have experienced a sense of renewed energy among the Jewish community and a rededication to Jewish life in the Land of Enchantment.

As I have traveled the state getting to know this wonderfully eclectic Jewish community, I have learned volumes about the special sense of Jewishness that exists here. I am most thankful for this ongoing education, and for the spirit of tikkun olam that exists here.

Here in New Mexico

Noted Kabbalah Scholar Draws Crowds in Albuquerque

By Jan Rabinowicz

On the last weekend of October, our city was graced with a visit by one of the foremost living scholars of Jewish mysticism, Daniel Chanan Matt, PhD., a professor at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, who is most widely known for his ongoing work translating the central kabbalistic text Sefer Zohar.

As Congregation Nahalat Shalom’s Scholar in Residence for 5776, Dr. Matt spoke to nearly-packed houses at Congregations Albert, B’nai Israel and Nahalat Shalom over the course of three days, on topics ranging from the Zohar as midrash to the philosophy of Shabbat and from ancient Israelite goddess worship to quantum physics.

His visit brought the Jewish community together in a way I have not seen in the year and a half I’ve lived here, and which I have been told is a rarity; no less so, I’m sure, for the fact that it revolved around a topic that is so often misunderstood and dismissed.

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