The lights of the menorah remind us of the brave Maccabees who stood up Antiochus of Syria who persecuted anyone who practiced Judaism. Our existence today reflects a strong spirit to withstand the hatred and anti-Semitism that sadly continues to this day. Hanukkah occurs as the days grow shorter and darker- we light candles literally to light up the world, and bring more awareness into the world of the need for acceptance, mutual respect and peace. It seems that message never gets old. We need it more than ever.
While Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights, it is interesting that we only use the modest menorah as a symbol of light. When I was younger I wondered why our houses weren’t lit up like the others around us? I even wrote a letter to the president of Saks Fifth Avenue wondering where the Hanukkah decorations were? His reply to me is on permanent display in the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, PA as a reminder that we can speak up in our country and be accepted.
I wondered…where were our big big lights?
Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil lasting eight nights instead of one, when the temple was rededicated and cleaned up after it was desecrated by the Syrian forces. Judah Maccabee and his band of brothers found the one jar of oil which was used to keep the Eternal Flame alight in the holy Temple- it lasted for eight days, thus we celebrate the miracle of light and the message of redemption and renewal. Even a tiny flame can shed light, every voice counts.