Chanukah. The festival of lights. The celebrations and the fried dough. I have been here on my Shlichut for almost a year and a half. Most of it socially distant. This Chanukah reminded me how much light we have in our community. How much joy. Chanukah is about family, tradition, light, and warmth. It is about the miracle and the heroes, survival, and victory. This year even more than others. And the quote at the opening has an even greater meaning.
This Chanukah, we went into our 10th month of “Covid-Normal.” Our celebrations and candle lightings were each in our own home, no big parties and public candle lightings. I would like to believe that due to this situation, more candles were lit. Perhaps since we did not have the option to come together to light candles, we all had to light our own. More candles, more light. More households spread the light that shined all over, becoming a great big light.
As I was hopping from one Zoom candle lighting to another, I started thinking — This year, more than ever, we need the light. That is certain. Looking back at the sacrifices made this year, the losses, the hurt. All to be carried in our hearts from now on. Leonard Cohen wrote “There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.” Perhaps the cracks of 2020 made room for some light in the image of immerging heroes, community efforts to help and support each other, finding strength and resilience in places we never thought we would.
Right around the corner is 2021, and with it, we hope, a new start. A better start. A new world is immerging out of 2020, a world that works together to fight a pandemic, a world who is connected globally online — and who learned to reappreciate the local and in person.
This Chanukah also marked a new reality for Israel and the Middle East with normalization agreements with different countries. Who would have thought that we would get to see a group of young people from the UAE and Bahrain lighting Chanukah candles with Israel’s chief Rabbis at the Western Wall?! Or having thousands of Israelis travel to Dubai, and Israeli musicians singing in Hebrew on stages of Arab countries?! We can hope that this is the dawn of a new era.
I have hope. A hope that comes from other people around our community and their choice to spread light. A hope that comes from laughter and from caring. A hope that comes from being inspired by others to try and be the hope for others.
There is one request I have for all you — Be the hope for others, be a small light in the sea of small lights, that becomes a huge light. Reach out to others, smile, encourage, be just and caring.
Here’s to 2021, may it be carried by the light of our candles and our hearts.