The nights were getting longer already, but when we changed the clocks a few weeks ago, it seemed to change very suddenly into a new season. For our cousins in
Israel, the days might be a bit brighter – a video of shirt-sleeved Tel Avivians dancing last week as an antidote to the terrorist mayhem was an inspiring and somewhat envy-inducing scene – but the spectre of violence there is real and immediate.
It was 68 years ago last Sunday that the United Nations voted for an independent Jewish state and an independent Arab state in Palestine. That was a day of jubilation, of momentous light, for Jews worldwide. Yet there is never total victory, never a moment when our enemies have permanently laid down sword, or stone or missile or knife.
In Jewish life, we light candles both to mark times of joy, as well as of grief. In Jewish rituals, the happy moments are tempered by the recollection of not-so happy moments.
At Chanukah, we light candles and curse the darkness. Hatred will not prevail. This is the message of Chanukah.
We see the darkness, but we do not succumb. We dance, as we saw in Tel Aviv. We give thanks for what we have, for the self-determination that is Israel and for the freedoms we enjoy in Canada. We rally ourselves and our neighbors to sponsor refugees and to raise funds for the Joint Distribution Committee to aid those who need it. Because we remember, or our parents do, what it is like to be refugees and to be in need. We advocate against climate change. We teach our children the values of tzedakah. We gather blankets and jackets for those in our own city who need warmth.
We will make our own light. We will celebrate not only our historical and contemporary victories, but life itself. We will love, laugh, dance, eat. L’chaim.