“I see Chanukah as a time when, as we light the candles, we pause in awe before the Jewish people, whose survival through diversity brings light into the darkness of the human soul.” Jewish feminist writer Anne Roiphe wrote these words in Tikkun magazine, and they certainly express an appropriate message for us this month. The sense of awe is not only reserved for the High Holy Days!
Every year, as December rolls around, we are bombarded with holiday pressures for all religions, from the secular world. While we seem to want to withdraw from all the hoopla (or maybe you like it!), at the same time we gather together with our own family and celebrate our blessings. That celebration can take many forms, and many of us celebrate in different ways with more than one religion represented. Chanukah is family time to share food, fun, songs, and the light in the darkness, both literally and figuratively.
This is a time to drink deeply from our own spiritual reservoir, and to remember that it supports us throughout the year. We have our own compelling symbols: the sukkah, the seder table, the Purim costumes, the shofar blasts, the eight candles in the Chanukiah, and even the two stately white candles we light 52 Friday nights a year. Please come to Shabbat services on Friday, December 16, when I present a short musical sermonette for this season, entitled “Chanukah – Sparks of Holy Light.”
One of the prayers we recite as we light the menorah is, “Blessed are You, who accomplished miracles for our ancestors in ancient days, and which we experience, both at this time of the year and throughout every year of our lives.” As Leonard Cohen (of blessed memory) wrote:
“Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering;
There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
May the light of the Chanukah menorah bring peace and light to you and yours this season.