“Hanukkah is about the freedom to be true to what we believe without denying the freedom of those who believe otherwise. It is about lighting our candle, while not being threatened by or threatening anyone else’s candle”
– Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
So, locally, Hanukkah is about the balance between our particular identities (for JFS as a Jewish organization) and our universal connection to others – the Greater KC Community, American society, and humankind – all in the context of religious freedom.
JFS is a great example of balancing these multiple identities as we serve our own Jewish community AND on behalf of our KC Jewish Community, we serve the Greater KC Community – we actually have more clients of other faith traditions and no faith tradition than we have Jewish clients.
These connections, internally and externally, are expressed ritually over 8 nights and days of Hanukkah (dedication and rededication) by lighting lights as a reminder to keep the faith – that things can and will get better – that there are miracles.
Part of the miracle is that in the deepest darkness, there remains something to light at all;
And part of the miracle is that the light sustains us, keeps our lights burning, longer than we would otherwise expect.
In a time of pandemic darkness and unusually high societal tensions, this message of hope and faith is so appropriate and critical.
And that’s really what our work at JFS is all about. Everyone needs light, yet there are darker corners of our world than others – we must bring light there.
Shabbat Hanukkah Shalom!
Rabbi Jonathan Rudnick, Jewish Community Chaplain