This Chanukah, the world needs our light

My Opa’s birthday was the third night of Chanukah—so regardless of what it said in his passport, the third night of Chanukah was when we celebrated. Opa was a wonderful storyteller who seamlessly wove Jewish themes and childhood anecdotes into stories that really left an impression on the listener. One Chanukah, he told me that as a boy in Germany during World War I, they ate turnips for over a year due to the British blockade. But that winter, somehow they found potatoes to make latkes. “You see,” he said, “even today, miracles happen when you least expect them.”
This Chanukah, as I think of Opa while my family lights the Chanukiyah in our window, the pride I usually feel at this small symbol of resilience is tinged with something bigger. This year, it’s more of an urgency:
An urgency to show that we are here—tens of thousands of us in the Twin Cities—and we’re not going anywhere. No matter how many campus alerts we receive of swastikas drawn or anti-Semitic slurs uttered. To define and call out anti-Semitism at all times (click here to see the excellent op-ed piece published this week by the JCRC).
An urgency to bring light to the darkness. To demonstrate that not even a gunman in a synagogue will convince us to hide the light from our Chanukiyot.
This year, the resiliency at the heart of the Chanukah story feels especially appropriate. As I’ve said before, our collective Jewish community has weathered storms and emerged stronger. And we will continue to do so. 
Jewish communities are famous for lifting each other up—whether by supporting each other when faced with hard times, coming together to honor one of their own’s successes, or lending a hand in times of change. Globally and here in the Twin Cities we need strong and resilient partners to help sustain and fortify vibrant Jewish life. As one of the community's oldest institutions, the St. Paul Federation, moves through a leadership transition, we know they will continue to work with us to address the critically important tasks before us including community security, bi-cities programming, and our ongoing mission to strengthen and sustain our vibrant Twin Cities Jewish community.  As always, Minneapolis stands ready and willing to assist our colleagues across the river in any way the St. Paul community would find helpful.

Because when we work together, our light shines brighter. And the world needs our light—urgently.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,