As I find myself in Jerusalem, tomorrow night we will all begin our holiday of Chanukah, which we call our “Festival of Light.” And each night as we light our candles, not only do they bring light into our home, but they bring an important message; a message more important than a little bit of oil that lasted for eight days.
Chanukah reminds us of a struggle long ago for religious freedom; a struggle for the right to be different, and to live, believe and worship as we choose, rather than live as others would demand of us. Antiochus and the Syrians demanded that the Jews of ancient Israel give up Judaism and embrace Hellenism, the religion and the way of life of the ancient Greek culture. But the Maccabees said “no.” “We demand the right to live as we believe right for ourselves and our people!”
And as for the miracle of Chanukah: for me it is not that the oil lasts for eight days. Rather, it is that the “oil” has lasted for more than 2,000 years, and that it continues to burn in in our Jewish homes and in our temples where Jews gather.
So for each of us and our children, let us be a light of kindness and goodness in a world that needs us to be that. I wish you a bright and meaningful Chanukah as I find myself and our temple group in the holy city where Chanukah was first observed, and where its spirit is felt everywhere.