We live in a time of rising overt anti-Semitism. This phenomenon is a darkness that demands our attention. There is no sense in denying it. The reality of growing overt anti-Semitism is affecting our lives, individually and communally, in ways we may have thought impossible. But, we must not despair!
Thankfully, there are strong and significant voices of support around us as well.
This Shabbat we will recite the blessing for the new Jewish month of Tevet. Rosh Chodesh Tevet will be next Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. And, as we transition from the Jewish month of Kislev to the Jewish month of Tevet, we celebrate Chanukah – the festival of lights.
This year, Chanukah is not just a festival of lights. This year Chanukah is very much a festival of lights even as we acknowledge that there is darkness around us, threatening our most precious values.
Chanukah will begin this Sunday evening. I hope you will join us this Shabbat as we pray for good and for blessing in the upcoming new Jewish month of Tevet. I also hope you will join us again this weekend as we celebrate the first candle lighting of Chanukah, in community, this Sunday night at City Center.
This year, the festival of lights comes as a stark reminder that we must face anti-Semitism with courage and with determination. We must light the candle/s to remind ourselves of the most Jewish of all values – the value of hope and of faith in the face of darkness.
Our tradition teaches us that the world will one day be a redeemed world – a world of true and lasting respect for all human beings no matter their race, creed, religion or lack thereof!
Our tradition also teaches us that we must act as partners with God, to bring our world closer and closer to the ideal of peace which was envisioned by our prophets.
This Shabbat, let us pray for a good month ahead. This Sunday, let us light the candles of Chanukah together. Let us stand up proudly as Jews, alongside those who value our presence and alongside those who value the opportunity to enjoy the blessings of a diverse community.
Shabbat Shalom and a very happy Chanukah!
Rabbi Gilah Dror