The holiday of light and hope began Thursday, December 7, as our brothers and sisters in Israel battle to end terrorism.

“The lights of Chanukah are a symbol of our joy. In time of darkness, our ancestors had the courage to struggle for freedom. Theirs was a victory of the weak over the strong, the few over the many. It was a victory for all ages and all peoples.” On the Doorposts of Your House, Prayers and Ceremonies for the Jewish Home

As Jews, we continue to fight for Torah and hold tightly to the light of freedom.  Everywhere Jews are feeling the heaviness of oppression and hatred as antisemitism continues to spread its ugliness and we ask of each other “what can we do?”

As we celebrate our yearly holiday and light the flames of hope, we can come together as Jews and stand strong. We stand in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust. We stand with prayer and think of their strength and endurance and find our own fortitude in their memories as we pray to Gd for the spiritual blessings we know are ours to receive.

The Mitzvah of lighting the candles and the immediate appearance of the flame brings the light everyone can see emanating from our windows in the dark. We, like candles, must each be the light of hope. “The Mitzvah is a lamp, and Torah is the light.” (Proverbs 6:23)

We learned as children that candle flames remind us of Gd’s presence in our lives protecting us, guiding us, and bringing spiritual light to the darkness that swirls around us. We add another candle for even more light on each of the 8 nights of this holiday. We anticipate the full glory of all the candles burning brightly to light up our lives. We celebrate the gift of spiritual light that each burning candle brings.

The candles burn so quickly, often in under 30 minutes. It is important to focus on their meaning and how each one of us can be the shamash, the helper who can add more light to the world. All of us are obligated to participate in the menorah lighting. In some families, a parent lights the family menorah while everyone else listens to the blessings and answers, “Amen.” In many other families, all members of the household, including children, light their own menorahs. This year especially, we remember the strength of the Maccabees and all who combated the forces of darkness.  We remember our ancestors and how they fought for us and taught us Torah and brought us up to be good people, the people we are today.

We fight with light. Light brings us hope for the present and for the future.

The blessings are particularly poignant this year. . .

“We praise You, Eternal Gd, Sovereign of the universe: You hallow us with Your Mitzvot, and command us to kindle the Chanukah lights.

We praise You Eternal Gd, Sovereign of the universe: You showed wonders to our fathers/mothers in days of old, at this season.”

And on the first night,

“We praise You, Eternal One, Sovereign Gd of the universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.”

Songs that tell the stories of strength, taught to us in our childhood bring sweet memories of holidays past and guide us to face the coming days…


Who Can Retell

“Who can retell the things that befell us,

Who can count them?

In every age a hero or sage

Came to our aid.


Hark! In days of yore, in Israel’s ancient land,

Brave Maccabeus led his faithful band,

And now all Israel must as one arise,

Redeem itself through deed and sacrifice!


Who can retell the things that befell us,

Who can count them?

In every age a hero or sage

Came to our aid.”

Ma’oz Tzur


“Rock of ages, let our song

Praise Your saving power;

You, amid the raging foes,

Were our sheltering tower.


Furious they assailed us

But Your arm availed us,

And Your word,

Broke their sword,

When our own strength failed us.


Children of the Maccabees,

Whether free or fettered,

Wake the echoes of the songs,

Where you may be scattered.

Yours the message cheering,

That the day is nearing,

Which will see,

All go free,

Tyrants disappearing.”



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