Chanuka is a moving and magnificent holiday, both aesthetically and symbolically. Eight days of growing light, and of proudly and clearly celebrating our identities!
We take a walk on our street after lighting the first candle, passing by the houses of friends who made aliyah from Germany, North America, Scotland, the Soviet Union, France, Tunisia. Their Chanukiot glow, “lehodot u’lehallel” – to give thanks and praise for the miracle of living free Jewish lives in their own land, with their children and grandchildren.
To punctuate this miracle, our granddaughter was born just before Chanukah – our new Syrian-American-Belarussian-Mexican-Argentinian second-generation Israeli in these reborn Judean hills! Oraya Chen is the name her parents gifted her on Shabbat morning in Efrat – literally “God is her light and the source of her inner beauty.”
A third significant moment this week – we launched a matching campaign for our 11-year-old non-profit, which creates weekly, warm Jewish communal events for thousands of lone, young Russian-speaking Olim throughout Israel, whose Soviet-born parents and grandparents grew up bereft of all opportunities for Jewish learning or experience.
These 20-35 year-olds are a miraculous, truth-seeking generation, and the physical and spiritual fulfillment of God’s eternal promise to Abraham, in our time – “and the fourth generation will return here.” (Breishit 15:16). Their talents, humility, and integrity, their identification with Jewish values of family, justice and freedom – and their sheer numbers – are truly the hope of Israel and Jewry world-wide.
To help our young Olim SHINE: https://www.jgive.com/new/en/usd/donation-targets/64189
Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev teaches that when we say “Bayamim hahem bazman hazeh” – “during those days, in this time” – in the blessings and prayers of Chanukah, the intention is literally now, in our days.
Naomi Shemer captures this in her Chanukah classic “Mi yadlik, ner atik:”
“Who will light this ancient candle,
find in their hearts a bright, new song,
In yesterday’s torch, the flame still burns,
and the greatest miracles reappear, and return.”
God enables these miracles, and we have the great privilege to perpetuate them, even after this year’s beautiful Chanukah lights have gone out.
To a healthy, light-filled winter. Chanukah Sameach!