As the days become shorter and we journey from the time of Thanksgiving towards the lights of Hanukkah we, as Jews and Americans, have time to focus on what we are grateful for and what we can do for others to increase light and holiness in our world.
There is a Midrash in the Talmud that talks about a winter celebration, 8 days long. It began the first Winter.
When Adam …saw that the length of the day was progressively diminishing he said: Woe is me; perhaps because I sinned the world is becoming dark around me and will return to chaos and disorder. And this is the death that was sentenced upon me from Heaven, as it is written: “And to dust shall you return” (Genesis 3:19). He arose and spent eight days in fasting and in prayer.
The Midrash invites us to see the days before Hanukkah as those filled with darkness, leading to a place where chaos and disorder reign. Then to welcome Hanukkah with a single candle, recalling the miracle that was brought about by individuals believing they could make a difference, they could fight for their values, their beliefs, and they could overcome a power greater than their own. And each night, as our sages ordained, we then increase the light, celebrate the greater miracle, and the holiness of the season.
This year, as we have for recent years, we are asking our community to help us increase the light in our community not only by lighting the Hanukkiah and joining together for our Hanukkah Shabbat on December 7, but also by giving to students at Lowell School and HaMotzi Dinner guests.
Please consider giving unwrapped gifts, coats, hats, gloves, or navy/khaki pants to our Lowell Students. The school also needs copy paper, hand sanitizer, skinny dry erase markers and spelling games.
Our HaMotzi dinner guests can use toiletries and canned goods.
The world can feel cold and dark at times, especially in the winter season. It is at this time that the power of faith and community can feel especially warm to each of us. For me, our Hanukkah service, where we hear the voices of an intergenerational choir and see the faces of our entire community, is one of my favorite times of year.
That celebration was only enhanced by the look on the social workers face at Lowell last winter as we filled a classroom with gifts and needed supplies. Seeing how thrilled she was truly inspired me to know that while true and lasting change takes time, effort, and sacrifice, there are individual things that can be done that make a difference today, that add light and dispel darkness, if only for a little while.
Rabbi Stacy Eskovitz Rigler