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As I reflect upon these past weeks and all that has befallen Israel and the Jewish people, there is one scene in particular, something that I saw on Facebook, that greatly inspired me. It was a group of Israeli soldiers wishing all of us Shabbat Shalom as they sang a song that includes both Hebrew and Arabic. A song that conveys our yearning for a time of peace. There was such purity of spirit in these young men. Clearly they were Jews before they were soldiers, and even in the midst of war, they embodied so much that is good and hopeful in the human spirit, and our shared challenge of causing light to shine where there is darkness.
We are now in the Hebrew month of Kislev, about to celebrate Chanukah in two weeks. This is our month for remembering the “miracles” that we Jews have experienced throughout history. And as we kindle the flames of Chanukah, our intent is to shine a little light into the dark world. We retell the story of how the brave Macabees stood up to the powerful Syrian army and caused a little flame of light to dispel what seemed to be infinite darkness; flames of hope at a time when most might have despaired. This is such a time when our world feels dark and we are uncertain of what will be for Israel and what will be for the Jewish people. So is this a time when we need to come together, young and old, to create a little light to dispel the darkness that has consumed the hearts and minds of so many.
Yes, I believe in miracles far greater than a flask of oil that burned for eight days. I believe in the miracle that we Jews are still a part of our world, cherishing values and ideals that represent great hope for our people and for all humanity. So at this trying time, not only for Jews, but for all decent people, the observation of Albert Einstein speaks a compelling message: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Yes, we Jews will cause light to prevail against the darkness that we have endured during these past weeks. Am Yisrael Chai: The Jewish people live as we all kindle our sacred flames of hope and promise for ourselves and all humanity. Wishing you Shabbat Shalom: a time of peace for which we all yearn.
Rabbi David Greenberg