I’m not ready for Hanukkah. By that, I don’t mean that I got a late start shopping for gifts. I don’t mean that I lost my Nana’s latke recipe. What I mean is, how can I possibly go into a holiday of light and miracles when everything in the news is darkness and hate?
In the span of about a week, it’s as if we’ve been reading a twisted, despairing version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “On one day, a massive terrorist attack in Paris, but some people were still hateful. Another day, senseless murders in Colorado Springs, but some people were still hateful. And on another day, a massacre in San Bernadino, but some people were still hateful.”
How do I celebrate nights of joy, hope, and freedom in the world that creates days like this? How can I sing Hallel, songs of praise for God, with horrific acts being perpetrated in the name of religion? When all around it seems so dark, how can lighting these lights possibly make a bit of difference?
The answer is right in front of me in the holiday itself: dedication. Hanukkah, Hebrew for “dedication,” embodies the will, the determination, the dedication of a people to survive in the face of insurmountable odds. It’s the spirit that is kindled and does not die, from the Maccabees fighting to preserve their lives and our sacred tradition, to the Parisian Jews being told not to light chanukiot out of fear of further attacks.
Join me, starting Sunday, and let us dedicate our eight nights of light against the hate and the desperation. For eight nights, let there be nothing but our combined glow around the world.
On Sunday I will light for hope.
On Monday I will light for understanding.
On Tuesday I will light for wisdom.
On Wednesday I will light for respect.
On Thursday I will light for acceptance.
On Friday I will light for dialogue.
On Saturday I will light for guidance.
On Sunday I will light for peace.
Now my holiday is dedicated. Now the flames have regained their purpose. Now I’m ready.