Like many of you, my family has initiated the tradition of lighting a
for each member of our household. In our home, we light a traditional one, a sleek one, and a whimsical one. But the fourth
--the one that is most special to us--isn't aesthetically beautiful like the others. Rather, it's a bare-bones menorah made from rusty nails.
You see, my cousins passed this ritual object down to us from a Holocaust survivor who was a metalsmith by trade--a man as brave as a Maccabee--who had covertly welded the menorah from spare nails while living in a concentration camp during the war.
Chanukah is one of my favorite holidays. While it is often touted as a minor festival on the Jewish calendar, I believe, to the contrary, that the Festival of Lights features aspects of being Jewish that are most core to who we are: light, resilience, hope--and, of course, a predilection for donuts.
Chanukah teaches us that, yes, a great miracle happened a long, long time ago during Syrian rule over there. But the holiday also sheds light on the miracles that happened in our more recent history, such as the miracle of the Holocaust survivor creating the menorah against all odds-and surviving the war.
And the holiday also reminds us that we are still surrounded by miracles today:
It's a miracle that most Jews, in 2021, will freely, openly, and proudly light their
in their windows--unlike the metalsmith who was forced to weld in secrecy.
It's a miracle that nearly 1,000 young Jewish adults gathered over Zoom last winter--even through a pandemic-to laugh with comedian Sebastian Maniscalco.
It's a miracle that much of the population was eligible for the COVID vaccine just over a year after the virus first gripped the world--and that young children will soon, hopefully, be able to be vaccinated as well.
It's a miracle when my toddler joins me in a rousing rendition of the "Shabbat Shalom" song every Friday afternoon or when we her latest PJ Library book to arrive in the mail--with her baby sister looking on at us happily.
t's a miracle that Jewish children everywhere get to experience the joy of Chanukah--and that one day they will light the candles with their own children-
--and so, too, will their children and their children's children.
It's a miracle that the light of the Jewish people--through it all--endures and glows.
So, thousands of years after that great miracle happened over there, great miracles are still happening here.
May your Chanukah be full of joy, light, and miracles.