The Jewish Renewal synagogue in East Vancouver, Or Shalom, is marking the eight nights of Chanukah by honoring eight “lights” of life on the city’s east side.
“I had this idea that it would be really special to open ourselves out to our community and to really focus on the notion of Chanukah being a celebration of light emitting from darkness, or the notion of Chanukah as being about light that seems unlikely to continue to shine but miraculously does persevere,” explained Rabbi Hannah Dresner, spiritual leader of the shul. “I would really like our community to focus on what it means to be a human being that is a light in the community.”
The synagogue will have a celebration this Saturday night that recognizes the contributions of eight individuals and organizations that add light to the east side community.
Among the honorees are John Jardine of Vancouver’s Native Education College; firefighters from the hall nearest Or Shalom; a group within the Or Shalom congregation devoted to aiding refugees; Kim Leary, executive director of the Homework Club associated with Britannia Secondary School; members of the Habonim-Dror youth movement; Angela Marie MacDougal, the director of Battered Women’s Support Services; Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House; and Rev. Sally McShane of First United Church, which runs programs in the Downtown Eastside.
“Our miracle story is that, when the Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated, they came in afterwards and wanted to relight the candelabra that was kept lit all the time but there wasn’t enough oil, so they lit it anyway and the miracle that’s celebrated is that that oil was sufficient to keep the lamp lit until olives could be harvested and oil could be pressed and brought forward to the Temple,” Dresner said. “So the notion is that if you light the light and tend it, that there is an element of trust and faith that, if we do our work, then the divine energy will join us in uplifting our world.”
Eight Leading Lights takes place Saturday, Dec. 12, at Or Shalom, 710 East 10th Ave., with a potato bar supper at 5:30 p.m. and communal singing and candlelighting at 7 p.m.