The message below from a friend and colleague, Rabbi Ira Ebbin, rabbi of Congratoin Ohav Shalom in Merrick, NY offers a meaningful and inspiring reflection for Chanukah. Thank you to the Alexander's for forwarding the thought.
Wishing everyone a wonderful Shabbat and Happy Chanuakah!
I often refer to the week of Chanukah as Jewish Pride week. It is then, more than any other Holiday, where we promote our Jewish Identity in a very public fashion. Perhaps there is an underlying complex of being overshadowed by our "younger brothers" with their Holiday paraphernalia, but especially on years like this one when the two holidays coincide, I feel the need to overcompensate and "do Chanukah" in as big of a way as I can. The public Menorah lightings, like the one we had in front of Ohav this past Wednesday, are just one of the acts that enables us to sound our voice to the world and announce "ani Yehudi" I am a Jew.
As I shared with the nearly hundred people that gathered Wednesday Night, for so many years our ancestors were not able to wear their religion on their sleeve. They kindled their religion behind closed blinds, too intimidated to let their light shine outside, too apprehensive to draw attention to their light in a world that was filled with darkness. We must never under-appreciate the opportunity we have in this country that enables us to shine our lights brightly. We should share these lights with our brothers and sisters who don't appreciate the unique value beauty of the lights of our tradition. We should sing and sing loudly, proudly declaring that the lights of our people can and will never be extinguished.
Too bad Chanukah only lasts Eight days. We have a lot of work to do.
Wishing you all an illuminating Shabbat.
Rabbi Ira Ebbin