Happy Chanukah

The days are drawing in. It feels awful to look out the window at 3pm and already see the darkness creeping across our world. No wonder our ancestors, like so many other religious traditions, sought to celebrate a festival of light and hope around the winter solstice. For that is what Chanukah [aka Hannukah, which begins this year on Sunday 28 November] is about for me. I know that it is also a historical reminder of how, in 165 BCE, the Maccabees won a surprise victory over the Seleucid/Syrian oppressors who had invaded Israel and desecrated the Temple with their idols and pig sacrifices and forced my ancestors to abandon Jewish practice and learning. Some centuries later, the sages added the wonderful story of how a small vial of oil, needed to light the Menorah in the Temple, lasted not just one day, but eight. A miracle had happened there, and this was given as the reason why we light candles each night. But for me, the real story, the real miracle is how one tiny candle can dispel so much darkness. We need to be open to spot the tiny miracles that surround us each day. The love of family and friends. The sound of children playing. The light of the sun through the clouds. The colour of the trees. And so much more. Not only that, we need to push ourselves, if we can, to help provide miracles for others. We need to use our minds, hearts, bodies and purses to help dispel that darkness. I often feel a sense of despair, what can I really do to help? How can my puny actions make a dent in global warming, or the poverty, the violence that is everywhere around us in our world…but then the Chanukah candle reminds me, one little flame can be a light in the darkness. I wish you all a Happy and fulfilling Chanukah.

Rabbi Jackie Tabick (Council of Christians and Jews)

image credit: UAL Jewish Society Chanukah party