This Hanukkah Be the Light

This Hanukkah Be the Light
Rabbi Aaron M. Lever BCC
Director of Spiritual Care

Hanukkah comes at that time of year when the days are short, and the hours of darkness are extended. We light the Hanukkah menorah and fill that darkness with its glowing light. This year the darkness we are experiencing is not just seasonal. Our nation is moving through the darkest and most dangerous phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. People feel overwhelmed, burned out and numb from all the grief and suffering, the illness and death, the unemployment and social isolation, the loss of a sense of normalcy, the loss of precious time. People are tired and are now experiencing Zoom and COVID fatigue. The promise of a vaccine brings hope but does not mitigate the suffering people are experiencing TODAY. We need Hanukkah more than ever this year. We need to see the glow of the Hanukkah lights and feel it warming our hearts. We need the pleasant distraction of something beautiful. This year allow the light of Hanukkah to ground you and touch your heart. More than ever we need to be a light for each other. In 2014, Rabbi Naomi Levy wrote a beautiful Hanukkah prayer:

God’s Candle is the Human Soul (Proverbs 20:27
We are God’s candle
We are made to shine
Not just one time in our history
But every day, even today.
God knows the awesome potential
Hidden inside us,
The gift of Chanukah is the light
We must bring
To this precious world.
On this night we remember our power
Mighty and eternal,
Bless us, God, with courage and strength
Health, love and peace.
We are God’s candle
May we shine and illuminate the world. Amen.

This year for each night of Hanukkah I encourage you to light a candle for what you feel grateful for and for those you love.
Light a candle for hope, blessing, courage and joy.
Light a candle for generosity, patience, compassion and humility.
Light a candle for every nurse, certified nursing assistant and doctor on the front-lines.
Light a candle for every respiratory and rehab therapist, for every environmental and dining services worker, for every chaplain and social worker facing the most unspeakable challenges of their careers.
Light a candle for every essential worker doing their part to get us through these tough times – teachers, grocery and postal workers, pharmacists, delivery workers, funeral directors and more.
Light a candle for everyone sick with COVID-19 and fighting for their lives, for everyone who has lost a loved one, for everyone who has lost their job and find themselves going to a food bank for the first time in their lives.
Light a candle for every resident in nursing homes or assisted living facilities who has been living in isolation, unable to hug their loved ones for the last ten months.

This year may we be PRESENT by being a LIGHT for each other.
This year may the lights of Hanukkah be all you need them to be – may they give you the strength to be the gift our world needs you to be.