The Talmud asks, “Why Hanukkah?”
Beyond the historical answers is the deeper reason that moves multiple traditions to celebrate the festivals of light at the darkest point of the year. When darkness surrounds us, we human beings crave the warmth and illumination of the candles.
Hanukkah comes to fill such times of darkness with light. Thus, Jewish tradition guides us to begin with one solitary candle, with its fragile but striking presence against the backdrop of darkness. With each passing day, we dare to light more candles, in a crescendo of light filling our homes and our lives. By the end of the week, we are surrounded by light and suffused with hope.
This Hanukkah, after a very dark period of political dysfunction in Israel, disastrous governance in the US and a global pandemic, we need more than ever to be enveloped by light. May the light of Hanukkah fill us with hopefulness and remind us that we have transcended difficult times before. The darkness will give way to light if, together, we make it so. Let us enjoy a true festival of light.
Rabbi Amy Eilberg serves as a spiritual director, kindness coach, and peace and justice educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of From Enemy to Friend: Jewish Wisdom and the Pursuit of Peace, published by Orbis Books in March 2014.
Eight nights, eight ways to deepen your involvement, awareness and impact
For each night of Hanukkah, we have a recommended activity — a way to learn more about the issues, get more involved in J Street or help drive change. You can do all eight in order, switch them up, or pick and choose what’s most meaningful to you.