Hanukkah’s main theme is about miracles; a small amount of oil that should have only lasted one day instead lasted for eight days, enough time for more kosher oil to be made. This miracle seems so ordinary to the miracles I learned about in my (Christian) Sunday School class, but miracles don’t have to be big and showy. They can be quiet and unassuming, yet have just as much meaning.
While I was on the train this morning, thinking about what to write tonight, I started to recall the small but vital events that have happened in my life. The first one that I thought of was my transfer to another high school during my junior year. At the time I felt like I was giving up and running away, but in the long run I was able to rebuild my confidence, thanks to some amazing teachers, Mrs. Bates, Mrs. Grimes, Mr. Locke and Doc Johnson to list a few. At a time when I was unsure that I would make it to college, they pushed me and made me realize that I wasn’t a massive failure, like I kept thinking.
Another small miracle I can think of is my first contact with Temple. People often ask me why I decided to convert to Judaism. The truth is very unsatisfactory (at least to me), because it pretty much came out of the blue. I usually say that I was having a hard time and decided that I needed something more and, for some reason, religion just popped into my head. But that’s not the miracle. The miracle is that I did a Google search, which yielded Temple as the first result. It was also the synagogue closest to where I live. I browsed the website and emailed someone, inquiring about conversion. I wasn’t really expecting a reply, much less a quick one, but I had one within a day of sending it and I was invited to enroll in the Stepping Stones class, which I did. The rest, as they say, is history.
What started as a small miracle of finding Temple snowballed into a much larger one. I began interning at Tycher Library located at the local JCC. I eventually quit my soul-sucking job and interned there for six months before I was hired by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. My Federation job introduced me to the wider Jewish community, as well as taught me about philanthropy. I became more involved with organizations like JDC Entwine and ADL and now I work at Temple, in the Youth Learning + Engagement department. I’ve been able to meet many wonderful and amazing people, but it wouldn’t have happened without someone taking a chance on me.
So this third night is dedicated to all those involved in helping to make these small miracles happen. There are too many people to name, but the odds are pretty good that if you know me, you’ve helped me along the way, so thank you for being in my life.