William Hamilton

What dedication looks like

“We knew we would be the last people to see these women.” Shari Mendes told the world on Monday, when she joined in the painful and poignant testimony of sexual violence and mutilation of women on October 7th. “Barbarians didn’t show these women any honor in life. So it was important to us to show each one of these women deep love and gentleness. So we stayed in the room longer with them and held them in our hearts as if they were our own daughters.”

Shari concluded with words of tender gratitude to those who were listening. “Thank you so deeply for your time, your sensitivity, your trust, and your commitment.” 

I find her capacity to itemize four things for which she was grateful to be very compelling. The Hebrew word Hanukkah literally means dedication. I can think of no more treasured ways to embody dedication than with: time, sensitivity, trust, and commitment. 

Hanukkah has a special Psalm. It concludes with transformation. It upends our mood. It flips our condition from mourning to dancing. “You loosened my sackcloth and covered me with joy. So that my voice will not be stilled, and I might sing out to you from the depths of my being” (Ps. 30:12-13). 

Simchat Torah (Oct 7) will never ever be the same. Hanukkah 5784 also feels unlike any other we’ve known. Yet just as Shari Mendes and her dedicated team made sure those whose voices had been so cruelly stilled, were laid to rest surrounded by gentle love, so too, we are called to defy today’s menacingly dark times.

May this week’s flickering lights show and tell of a dedication that we fortify with our time, our sensitivity, our trust and our commitment.

About the Author
Rabbi William Hamilton has served as rabbi (mara d'atra) of Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA since 1995.
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