As we mark the second night of Chanukah, we light the Hanukiyah. We do so, traditionally, to celebrate the miracle of the oil, which lasted for eight days – much longer than expected. But in lighting the Hanukiyah and adding a candle every night for eight nights, we are also helping increase the light in our life and in the lives of those who surround us.
Just last week, three Israeli couples wed at Temple Emanu-El in New York in the presence of 1,500 guests, all calling for freedom of choice in marriage in Israel. The three couples either cannot, or will not, get married in Israel under the Chief Rabbinate. Just as the breaking of the wine glass reminds us that the whole cup is comprised of thousands of shards – we know that bringing the light of equality, pluralism and religious tolerance will be achieved first and foremost by the daily efforts of our Rabbis in Israel together with a growing number of Israelis who are willing to take a stand.
Last week we also had the pleasure to participate in the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial in Boston. In attendance were 6,000 Reform Jews from across the United States and the world, committed to enhancing the light of Reform Judaism, among them a delegation of around 40 IMPJ Rabbis, staff, lay leaders and youth. The Biennial took place during a time when tensions between the state of Israel and Diaspora Jewry are at their highest, following the freezing of the Kotel Resolution, the push for the Conversion Bill and increasing incitement against the Reform Movement in Israel. Despite these tensions, a bright light shined as we all came together to celebrate liberal and progressive Judaism in Israel and worldwide.
In recent months, we have unfortunately seen continued and even enhanced incitement and discrimination against our movement in Israel. As we enter the holiday of miracles and light, we are reminded of the famous story of Rabbi Yisroel Salanter, who when coming by the house of a shoemaker who was still at work late into the night, learned a great lesson – as long as the candle is lit, there is still time to repair. May we take this lesson and work together toward a brighter, more tolerant Israel.
On behalf of the entire IMPJ, I want to wish you and your family a Happy Chanukah!
Chag Urim Same’ach,
Rabbi Gilad Kariv