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Stay Lit -- Chronicle Online/The WORD 12/14/23

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah


December 14, 2023

2 Tevet 5784



On Tuesday, a Polish member of parliament used a fire extinguisher to put of the flames of a Menorah that had been lit in the Polish Parliament.  Despite his efforts to extinguish the flames, the rabbi who had conducted the Menorah lighting ceremony just a few minutes earlier was able to relight the Menorah while the extremist member of Parliament was forced to leave the building. Then, on Wednesday morning in Oakland, California, the Jewish community woke up to find that its public Menorah had been torn down and thrown in a nearby lake.  A hate crime investigation has been started, but more importantly, a new Menorah was in place in time to light candles Wednesday evening. These two stories only reinforce what we Jews have known for a long time.  There have always been people in this world who want to extinguish our light, but we’ve always found a way to keep the flame going.  The original story of Hanukkah is one of the earliest examples, but there’s no shortage of fire extinguishers and vandals in the subsequent 2,200 years. This year, Hanukkah came at a perfect time.  Jews of the world were reeling from the physical attack on Israel on October 7th and the subsequent verbal assault against Israel in the media ever since.  Here in the US, we’ve been facing an unprecedented surge in antisemitism.  These have been dark days, indeed. But then, Hanukkah came. This past Sunday, we were scheduled to light a Menorah on the Summit Village Green at 6:00pm.  The weather forecast was terrible – with heavy rain expected all day.  There was a 90% chance of rain at 6:00pm.  But, then a funny thing happened.  At about 5:45pm, the rain stopped.  We gathered as a community on the Green – perhaps a slightly smaller crowd than we would have otherwise had – and the rain held off long enough for us to recite the blessings, teach some words of Torah and sing some songs.  There was light in the darkness. Last night, here at the synagogue, about 50 families brought their Menorahs and we set them up in our sanctuary.  When we light a few Menorahs in our house, the light and warmth are noticeable.  When we light 50 Menorahs in one room, it’s overwhelming.  It was a powerful reminder of what it means to come together as a community. And tonight, as we light the candles one last time, we will come together, 7:00pm at Faith Lutheran Church. The members of the Faith community have been supporters and allies of the Jewish community for many years.  This event reminds us that sometimes, when our lights are flickering, we have friends who are willing to share their light with us.   Sadly, tomorrow, there will be no more candles to light.  But, we must continue to come together as a community even in dark and stormy times.  We must share our light with one another, and we must draw light from our allies and friends.  If we do that, then Hanukkah extends well beyond eight days, and no one will be able to extinguish our light. Shalom, RAF.

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