|The Hope of Hanukah|
The message of Hanukah is hope. Even a little candle can light up the darkness. This past week in Katonah we celebrated the light of interfaith partnership. Just before the members of St Luke’s Episcopal Church lit the lights on the largest live Christmas tree in New York, Kenny Green and I lit the Hanukah menorah and lead a crowd of Katonah residents in singing traditional Hanukah songs like Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages,) and “I had a little dreydle.” When we finished singing, Father Patrick of St Luke’s Church came over to me and said, “I always teach my people that Jesus never celebrated Christmas, he celebrated Hanukah, and he celebrated it in Jerusalem. It’s good that we can celebrate together.”
Father Patrick’s words give us hope for America’s future. Recently we have experienced the darkness of hatred. This week, practically in our backyard, in Pleasantville, large swastikas were spray painted on the asphalt of a parking lot. The example of the Maccabees is not to be afraid. Even though our Jewish community may be small in numbers we can make a big difference when we partner with others to spread the light of tolerance, inclusion and diversity.
The traditional Haftarah reading for Hanukah is from the Prophet Zachariah. “Not by might, not by power, but by spirit shall all people come to live in peace.” This is our hope at Hanukah – to dispel the darkness of prejudice and ignorance by partnering with our neighbors in a spirit of mutual respect and a celebration of diversity and dignity for all human beings.
I hope to see you tonight at the Temple as we gather for our “Night of Light” celebrating the 6th night of Hanukah with latkes, friends and fun.
May your Hanukah be filled with the light of hope and friendship.
Hag Hanukah Sameach,
Rabbi David Wilfond