Rabbi Milton Steinberg wrote: “The Jew almost alone in the ancient world had a sense of the dignity of the life of every human being.[1] Torah teaches us to care for the poor and helpless out of compassionate concern to relieve suffering, not simply to avoid societal unrest. Ms. Chani Getter’s piece (below) follows very nicely my previous post on Hanukah: http://rabbielimallon.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/12-3-12-hanukah-thinking. Hers is a wonderful expression of this as it relates to our lighting of the Hanukah lights.

Chanukah Reflection
by Chani Getter [2]

In an interfaith dialogue earlier this week, I was asked: What gift does your Judaism give you?

It is really hard to distill all that my Jewishness has offered me… words are simply not sufficient… However, my answer to that question – at that moment, was that it provides me a space to be present and conscious in the moment.

How?

Blessings are part of my day-to-day living. Before and after eating I pause, and thank Spirit for the abundance of food laid before me. When leaving a bathroom, I thank Universe that my bodily functions are working within me. When I go to sleep, I pause and surround myself with the angels. When I wake up, I open my eyes in gratitude, thanking God for the gift of my soul, and the trust to live another day.

I pause weekly to observe the Shabbat and spend time with family and friends. Every month I bless the new moon, noticing the way it cycles as it becomes full and retreats again.

The greatest gift that I have is to notice, to be present to what is and to honor it.

Living on the East Coast, this past month has brought a stark recognition to the powerful reality that life as we know it can change in an instant.  That everything we own, the job we have and the home we live in, the people we love, can be swept away in less then 24 hours.

Although I have been blessed to only lose electricity during the week of the storm, I am aware and deeply moved by the fact that friends, acquaintances and others have lost everything.

As I enter Chanukah, I ask myself to notice the flames, the light, within the darkness and honor those that are grieving.

As we light the eight candles of Chanukah, please join me as together we…

1 – Light a candle for those who still do not have electricity, heat and/or water.
2 – Light a candle for those who’s home and possessions were ruined and need repair.
3 – Light a candle for the trees and the wildlife lost in the storm.
4 – Light a candle for those who’s home and possessions were lost or damaged beyond repair.
5 – Light a candle for those who have no homes to lose.
6 – Light a candle for those who lost their jobs and livelihood.
7 – Light a candle for those who have lost a loved one.
8 – Light a candle for those who have lost their life.

As a witness, light the Shamash (the middle one) for yourself, for witnessing the effects of this significant storm.

Happy Hanukah 2009.6[3]

[1] Steinberg, Rabbi Milton; Judaism and Hellenism; in “Hanukah: The Feast of Lights,” Emily Solis-Cohen, ed.; Jewish Publication Society, © 1945; p. 10
[2] Chani’s work can be found at: http://www.inspirationallivinginc.com
[3] Menorah/Hanukiah design © 2009 by Rabbi Eli Mallon