Light means many things to many people. Judaism is replete with references to light, beginning with Creation. It symbolizes hope, as in the promise of the new day. When one speaks of enlightenment, one thinks of wisdom. Lighting the way is the power to lead and to accomplish things that might seem impossible. Light is often used to represent the forces of good, while darkness usually depicts the forces of evil.
Chanukah is all about light. It is the story of enabling Judaism to continue against all odds, the triumph of the few against the many and the ability to rededicate the Temple when there seemed to be less than enough resources to do so. It symbolizes triumph through faith and will – whether during the time of the Maccabees or in the present.
While Chanukah is accorded less status than some of the other Jewish holidays, it is a big holiday for American Jews. For some people it is a way to keep the children happy while avoiding the “December dilemma.” For others, it is a fun celebration with enjoyable – and delicious – rituals. For still others, it is a way to explain the lack of other people’s rituals to one’s neighbors.
While we light the candles, give and get the presents and eat the latkes and sufganiyot, let us remember the real messages of the holiday. It was never easy to be Jewish, and sometimes we have to fight for it. There are many competing influences in our world, and we have to work at making Judaism a priority. Judaism is both an individual and a collective effort: a fully lit menorah gives so much more light than one candle, but each candle contributes some of that light.
In 2014 many of our brethren faced challenges, especially in Israel. By standing together, like the lights of the menorah, we are stronger. Kosher OC wishes you and your family a joyous Chanukah that brings light into your home and into your heart.