Cantor Debbie and I celebrated Shabbat and an early Chanukah with our Early Childhood Center students this morning!
We need Chanukah desperately this year. It will bring light not only to the darkest time of the year, but into a very dark time in our global Jewish community. The attacks against us are overwhelming. Many of you want to do something. I’ve been asked by so many: “what can I do to stand up to the anti-Semitism out there?”
Centuries ago, the great Jewish leaders, Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shammai, respectfully disagreed over how we light the Chanukiah. Rabbi Shammai insisted that on the first night, we light eight candles and reduce a candle each night. Rabbi Hillel disagreed teaching that we need to add a candle each night, making the glow of the Chanukiah brighter as the holiday progresses. As we all know, Rabbi Hillel’s argument stuck and for good reason. Chanukah isn’t simply about remembering the eight days that the oil burned in the ancient Temple. It’s about remembering the victory of the Maccabees over those who sought to destroy Judaism. The key to this victory was a small but strong coalition of Jews who believed that they had a right to thrive. By building this coalition, one person at a time, by coming together as a united community and standing up for what they believed in, they ensured that the light of Judaism not only continued to shine but burned brighter and brighter. Because of the Maccabees, we are here today to celebrate Chanukah.
So, what can you do to stand up to the anti-Semitism out there? I shared many things you can do on my Facebook page. As we get ready to celebrate Chanukah, I want to stress the first thing I mention on Facebook:
Join a local synagogue and/or other local Jewish institutions and SHOW UP. These places are on the frontline of this battle. They (we) need your support, your presence and your commitment.
Your support keeps Ramat Shalom and/or other Jewish organizations strong. Your presence is like the candles on the Chanukiah; the more people we have at programs, events, classes and services, the stronger our light. Right now, it’s essential that synagogues and other Jewish institutions across the planet radiate a lot of powerful Jewish light. Our communal strength must be seen by all. And, please remember, when you show up, you support the others who are there with you. It feels good to be together.
We’re taught to advertise the “miracle of Chanukah”- the fact that the oil lasted for eight nights. We do so by placing the Chanukiah in our windows and sharing the light with the world. We can’t just share our light during Chanukah. We need to do it year-round and do our part to make sure that our Jewish light – our Judaism – burns brightly, sending a much-needed message to the world.
For those who support us and/or other Jewish institutions – thank you and please keep it up! For those who do not, please consider ways you can connect with us and/or other Jewish places. Not only would we love to have you, we need you! For those who are not Jewish, please keep in mind you can still support important Jewish institutions (local synagogues or organizations like the ADL or AJC). Thank you!
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah!