By Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman, Congregation Shaarei Shamayim, Madison
There’s no getting around it. We live in dark times. The gap between the rich and poor relentlessly expands. Radical disparities take away the rights of workers.
We live in a world that overflows with human suffering, injustice, inequality. It is difficult to work for social justice when the world around us is so bleak. We come to believe that the fight is futile, that our actions don’t matter.
But the holiday of Hanukkah suggests otherwise. It reminds us that even in dark times it is our obligation to hope, to believe in miracles, to act as if another world is possible.
On Hanukkah we retell the story of Judah Macabee, a man who refused to accept the destruction of his traditions and community. He believed that he could organize, that he could make things better. He refused to accept what was and insisted on fighting for what could be.
We honor his bravery and courage. We celebrate his stubbornness. We remember that even in the darkest times change can happen.
Jewish tradition teaches us to believe in miracles. From the story of Hanukkah we celebrate the miracle that a small jar of oil lasted for eight days. But we also remember that there are miracles in our own world. There is the miracle of hope, of change, of love and forgiveness and community.
In these dark times we come together to demand respect for workers and justice for the poor. May this Hanukkah inspire all of us to believe that the way things are is not the way things have to be.