When I was a kid, I loved Hanukah. It’s hard not to love a holiday that says you’re supposed to eat fried potatoes, donuts, and chocolate gelt. But, as an adult, I love Hanukah even more. Yes… because of the fried potatoes, donuts, and chocolate gelt but, more importantly, for its incredible message.
During Hanukah, we add a passage to the daily prayers in the Amidah which reads: “In the days of Mattityahu, the son of Yochanan HaCohen, the Hasmonean and his sons, when the wicked Greek kingdom rose up against Your people Israel to make us forget Your Torah and compel us to stray from the statues of Your Will, You in Your great mercy stood up for us in the time of our distress. You took up our grievance, judged our claim, and avenged our wrong. You delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure and the wicked into the hands of the righteous…”
The Greek Assyrians had desecrated and defiled the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Against all odds, the Jews fought back and were victorious. We returned to Jerusalem and cleansed and redecorated the Holy Temple. According to our tradition, in rededicating the Temple, the golden Menorah was lit and miraculously burned for eight nights. Thus, we celebrate Hanukah, the Festival of Lights. Oh, and because of the oil... we eat fried potatoes and donuts.
Light is a powerful metaphor.
It has been said that the flame the Maccabees kindled in the Holy Temple still burns in the hearts of Jews around the world.
It has been said that the flame the Maccabees kindled in the Holy Temple inspires us still (as it did them) to stand up as proud Jews in the face of adversity or hatred.
It has been said that the flame the Maccabees kindled in the Holy Temple reflects the words of the Torah calling on the Jewish People to be a “Light unto the Nations.”
While I personally love our traditional Festival of Lights, there is another festival of lights that inspires me as well. It, too, reflects a struggle between the powerful over the weak. It, too, reflects a struggle between the many over the few. It, too, reflects a struggle between the pure and the impure. This festival of lights inspires me, like the Maccabees, to stand up in the face of injustice to fight for what is right. The Light that inspires this festival is no less miraculous than the flame that burned for eight days in the Holy Temple. It is a miraculous light that is as old as time and created by God Itself.
This light is beautiful. It is awe-inspiring. It is spectacular.
It the Light of the Sea.
Below are eight videos (one for each night of Hanukah) of this Festival of Light for you to enjoy and be inspired to take action to protect and repair the Sea.
I wish you and yours a happy and healthy Hanukah filled with Light and Love…. And lots of latkes and donuts.