Dear WJC Family,
Chag Urim Sameach! That’s right, it’s still Hanukkah even though the only candles we will light tonight are Shabbat candles. The eighth day of Hanukkah feels a little bit different, doesn’t it? It is still the holiday, still a day of commemorating miracles, but the hanukkiah lights won’t burn again for another year. The oil (or candlebox) has run dry and all that lingers is the memory of the light they provided. Like the flames you see behind your eyelids if you looked directly at the hanukkiah for too long and then closed your eyes, we know longer see the light, we only sense the echo of light.
And yet, in the lingering traces of light – the wax crusted hanukkiyot on the table by our window, the shreds of wrapping paper crumpled in a corner, the smell of frying oil and potatoes that will linger until New Years – in all of it are also the reason to find joy. Remember, in the Book of Exodus when Moses asks to see God his request is denied. Instead he is hidden in the cleft of a rock, shielded while God is present and then allowed to see the traces of God’s presence. He is allowed to see the evidence that God was there only after the Divine Presence has passed. But then, isn’t that how we all experience God in the world? Isn’t it our choice to call out the wonders and holiness that linger even when we feel that God has hidden God’s face?
So too on this eighth day of Hanukkah, we see the traces of the holiday, the traces of the miracles, but there will be no more candles, no more direct experience of the light. We have to choose to believe that miracles are still possible, that the signs of light having beamed and passed are enough to help us believe that the light will come again. The eighth day may be different, but it is no less important.
On Tuesday I got to hear the story and witness the fruition of such belief in miracles that linger. I was able to witness the lighting of a hanukkiah that survived the Shoah, had been lost, and was now found and lit for the first time in decades just before it would be donated to Yad v’Shem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial and Museum. It was a very special candle lighting ceremony held at our partner synagogue in Jerusalem, Moreshet Avraham.
For our video this week, I invite you to watch the recording of that miraculous evening which includes a description of the hanukkiah and its original owner by her descendants, as well as remarks from several rabbis, including me. You can access the video by clicking here. The video alternates between Hebrew and English. For the English telling of the story and descriptions jump to minute 7:45, minute 18:10, minute 29:20. To hear my remarks, jump to minute 45:00.
We also have the opportunity to become overseas members of Moreshet Avraham by clicking here and making the suggested donation. The congregation has really taken a hit from the war. Their Gala, their largest fundraiser of the year, had to be canceled. Overseas memberships will really help them get through the year and continue to thrive. I hope you will consider joining them and taking membership in a spiritual home in Jerusalem. During our WJC Israel mission in January, we will have a chance to be together with members of Moreshet Avraham (we will be volunteering together) and hopefully we will all have a chance to visit there soon.
In the meantime, we can continue to come together at our spiritual home right here in Mamaroneck. Together, may we see holiness and light, and when we can’t manage that, may we cherish and be inspired by the traces of the light.
See you in shul,