Urgent RequestDecember 6, 2023
Rabbi David Wilfond’s Message – Friday December 15th, 2023December 15, 2023
|Rabbi Wilfond’s Message – December 8th, 2023
“The Bravery of the Maccabees.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, last week, delivered a major address on antisemitism on the
Senate floor. “I feel compelled to speak because …I have noticed a significant disparity between how Jewish people regard the rise of antisemitism, and how many of my non-Jewish friends regard it. To us, the Jewish
people, the rise of antisemitism is a crisis — a five-alarm fire that must be extinguished.”
“The vitriol against Israel in the wake of October 7th is all too often crossing a line into brazen and
widespread antisemitism, the likes of which we haven’t seen for generations in this country — if ever.
After October 7th, when boycotts were organized against Jewish businesses in Philadelphia that have
nothing to do with Israel — that is antisemitism! After October 7th, when swastikas appeared on Jewish
delis on the Upper East Side — that is antisemitism!
After October 7th, when protesters in California shouted at Jewish Americans, “Hitler should’ve smashed you!” — that is antisemitism! After October 7th, when students on college campuses across the country who wear a yarmulke or display a Jewish star are harassed, verbally vilified, pushed, and even spat upon and punched — that is antisemitism!” “I implore every person and every community and every institution to stand with Jewish Americans and denounce antisemitism in all of its forms, especially the double standard that has been wielded against the Jewish people for generations to isolate us. The time for solidarity must be now. Nothing less than
the future of the American experiment hangs in the balance.”
Tonight, is Hanukah. Tradition tells us to place our Hanukah Menorah in a visible place so all can see it.
“Unless we are in a time of danger,” says the Talmud. Then we can place the Menorah on an inside
table. We live in a time of increased violence against Jews. This year, where will you place your
Menorah? Do you feel safe to display it publicly in your window? Or do you feel safer placing the
menorah inside away from the eyes of haters? Without judgment, our tradition acknowledges that Jews
have lived in quieter times, and we have “Lived in times of danger.” Wherever you choose to place your
menorah, I want you to make your decision with intention.
I pray for a time when we will not need to ask the question “Do we need to have the bravery of a
Maccabee to display the Menorah publicly?”
The very first Hanukah celebrated the bravery of Jewish soldiers, the Maccabees. Today, I am overawed
by the tremendous bravery of the young men and women serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Sadly,
the Shadow of Death has descended on nearly 100 Israeli families having lost sons and daughters in the
battle against Hamas. There is a black hole of more than 1,200 Israeli civilians slaughtered on October
7th , and the more than 100 hostages who remain hidden below-ground in darkness. Our neighbor Ayal,
was a teenage baby sitter for our children a few years ago. Today, Ayal, is a commander in the IDF.
Ayal’s Dad told me his son, personally knew 23 people killed since October 7th . A great darkness has
descended on Israel and the Jewish people.
This year lighting the Hanukah candles is an act of prayer that light may be restored. We need to spread
the light of education by speaking-up whenever we hear antisemitism. We need to increase the light of
solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel with emotional and material support. We need to
remind ourselves that we can make a difference. The Maccabees were a small group that faced
insurmountable odds, yet overcame. This Hanukah may we too find the bravery to be modern
Maccabees, each in our own way, to spread the light of hope and life.
May the Festival of Lights bring us light and strength.
Hag Urim Sameach,
Rabbi David Wilfond