My heart clenches in sorrow every time there is an anti-Semitic attack. Though we may not all agree on certain things, Jews are part of a global family and when a family member is hurt, we feel it too. There has been several attacks on the Orthodox Jewish community in New York this month and so many smaller acts of hatred. It’s easy to become cynical and close ranks in the name of security, but that would be letting the bigots win. Still, how does one cope with a world that seems to be getting darker all the time?
There are nine candles on a hanukiyah, eight representing each night of Hanukkah and the shamash. The shamash is the “helper”, the one that kindles each candle every night. The light of the hanukiyah grows each night, representing hope and reminding us that we have a responsibility to help make the world a better place. It’s easy to turn away from the world and ignore what is happening, but we are all compelled to be like the shamash, to spread light however we can.
Each b’nai mitzvah student does this by participating in a mitzvah project.
Every religious school teacher does this by giving up their Sunday mornings to pass on the traditions of our faith.
Every teacher and librarian does this by giving kids the gift of knowledge and curiosity.
Every dog and cat and pet does this by bringing comfort to its owners.
One of my coworkers does this by spearheading social justice efforts.
Another coworker does this by engaging young adults in Jewish programming.
Every parent does this by nurturing their children.
I do this by speaking up for those who cannot (or try to, at the very least.)
And when we all come together, all these pieces of sacred light, we can make change. It won’t happen right away and we may not always get it right, but it’s our responsibility to keep going and fighting the good fight.
A candle is a small thing. But one candle can light another. And see how its own light increases, as a candle gives its flame to the other. You are such a light.Moshe Davis