Let me be the first to wish you a happy Chanukah. Chanukah with the candles, dreydles and latkes is often thought of as a time of pure joy. The back story of Chanukah is somewhat somber. It begins with a divided nation. Some Jews wanted to adapt to the Greek culture of their day. Others preached an uncompromising allegiance to the traditions of their ancestors. Each group fought for advantage. They could not present a united front, and the Greeks came close to putting a permanent end to Judaism. It was a confusing time, a civil war between Jews with a revolt against an empire going on at the same time. That Judaism prevailed was truly miraculous. This all brings to mind our elections and all of the disappointment, anger and fear they brought out. The task of today’s America is for people of different ideologies, philosophies and life styles to find a way to live together in peace. I am afraid that differences in approach and ideology can lead to strife or even civil war, as it did among our ancestors in the Chanukah story and as it has done in many places around the world. This Chanukah, let us remember that the way to fight the darkness is not to hit it with a stick, it is to light a light. Let us all think hard and try to discover the lights that we can kindle which will dispel the darkness and light up the world.
Chang Urim Sameach. A happy festival of lights.
Rabbi Gerald Sussman