The festival of lights started early this year
Last night was the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. I saw a Washington Post article yesterday that talked about the “dark side of Hanukkah” but, just as Thanksgiving has a darker side, can’t we just focus on the positive for a minute?
When I was a kid, I learned about the holiday in school and immediately wanted to convert to Judaism. I mean, Christmas is one day. Hanukkah lasts eight nights! Eight nights of presents! What kid wouldn’t want that? I have since learned that it is hard to convert and I don’t have that kind of energy. A neighbor converted and she had to do a lot. Plus, I used to love bacon and still love shellfish. That’s kind of superficial but I am lazy and not at all religious. I used to go to s secular Buddhist temple in DC.
One thing I have noticed is how committed so many Jewish people are to helping others, preventing genocide and other mass atrocities and oppression. Jewish World Watch is very active in this space working to raise awareness of the plight of the Uyghurs and the Rohingya, among other projects. I think a lot of people only view how Muslims and Jews interact through the prism of Israel and the Arabs in the Middle East but it is more complicated than that. On World Holocaust Day, Jewish leaders in the UK took to the streets to protest China’s treatment of the Uyghurs. Wherever I look, it seems there are Jewish leaders speaking out for people who are being pressed or worse.
Maybe I am being simplistic but I heard a Jewish leader in New York City talk about how Hanukkah should be for everyone. That we should all be the light for each other. After so much darkness from the pandemic and all the hate that has reemerged in the world, can’t we use it now?
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