As a Jewish professional, there are rare moments when my personal and professional life comes together. This past week was one of those times. While we have seen an unbelievable increase of antisemitic incidents (including another round of hate-filled flyers being found in Upland in the last couple of days) and mainstream media coverage of the rise of antisemitism, Hanukkah began on Sunday evening. Oh yeah… and my daughter became a Bat Mitzvah this past Shabbat.
Think about it for a moment… while our community finds itself in an existential threat against the hatred that is being targeted towards the Jewish community, my family celebrated a monumental simcha. This event was a powerful message: we will not back down or be deterred in our observance, commitment, and dedication to being Jewish.
Tonight marks the 3rd night of a holiday that is about a commitment to Jewish survival. So what better time than right now for us to take a stand?
In what I consider his most seminal Hanukkah song, We Light the Lights, Sam Glaser captures the what, how, and why of the holiday. In the song, Glaser sings:
"There have been times of danger
When we couldn't learn our Torah
When they tried to make our spirit disappear
So eight nights a year we light
The lights on the menorah
Showing the promise of our Torah perseveres."
The song reminds us that there have been times in our history when our Jewishness has been challenged. Unfortunately, we find ourselves in one of those times. So in the spirit of Hanukkah, there is a number of things we can do.
- Light our menorahs and place them in our windows!
- Attend public Hanukkah gatherings.
- Support Jewish organizations to help combat the rise of antisemitism.
- Encourage your friends to stand up to hatred.
- Attend a Shabbat service or Jewish celebration.
- Encourage organizations to officially adopt IHRA's working definition on antisemitism like the Jewish Federation did earlier this year.
- Attend a City Council meeting and ask the council to pass a resolution condemning antisemitism
These (and others) are examples of things that each of us can do to stand up and show we are not intimidated by the hatred we are witnessing. Use the message of Hanukkah as motivation to act.
With December 31 quickly approaching, and in the spirit of Hanukkah, I hope you will consider making a final gift to the Jewish Federation. And your donation will be doubled through the generosity of an anonymous couple who offered us a $25,000 matching gift. So give a gift to our community this Hanukkah by donating to the Jewish Federation today.
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