What Does it Really Mean to Celebrate Chanukkah?

Ever since the mid-2nd century before the common era, the menorah has been Judaism’s premier symbol of hope. The reason is clear. The menorah’s light banishes winter’s darkness. The ritual of kindling one additional candle every night increases the light.

During Chanukkah week, we try to become like a glowing Chanukkah menorah, actively seeking out opportunities to bring more light into the world.

This is Chanukkah’s timeless teaching: each of us has the power to push back darkness. Whose heart can you strengthen? Whose soul can you restore hope? Whose mind can you illuminate?

But now it is not just the hungry, the homeless, and the poor, who need our support and concern. Now it is Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, the LGBT community, and Jews experiencing anti-Semitism from the far left or the alt right – who need our concern and support.

On this Chanukkah, we must help to push back the darkness these communities are experiencing, to give them hope, to give them strength, to show them they are not alone, to demonstrate through deeds that we care and we will stand up for them.

What does it mean to really celebrate Chanukkah?

You have celebrated Chanukkah when you talk about how stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination hurt our country.

You have celebrated Chanukkah when you speak out if someone is being attacked for who he/she is.

You have celebrated chanukkah when you never, ever allow a bigoted slur to go unchallenged.

This is Chanukkah’s timeless teaching: Don’t just light the menorah. Be a menorah! Banish darkness. Be the love, the warmth, the compassion you would like to see in the world. Increase the light.

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