“Would you light my candle?” This proverbial question from Mimi in the musical “Rent” is more than just about lighting an actual light, just as the Hanukkah candles are about more than just lighting an actual light.
The essence of Hanukkah is about spreading light, as we read in Proverbs (6:23): “For the mitzva is a lamp and the Torah is light.” Jews spread light every day of the year; that’s what it is to be a Jew always, but on Hanukkah we celebrate that light and share it widely.
Here in Atlanta, we’ve been sharing our light in so many ways this year: supporting one another physically, emotionally and financially through the pandemic; finding new ways to connect as individuals and organizations; and ensuring health and safety of one another. And perhaps less known and celebrated (but equally important) are the ways in which the members of this community rallied to support one another during the power outages after Tropical Storm Zeta left much of the city without power for days on end; our literal darkness was illuminated by the shared lights of our community.
Just like Mimi, we are all looking for connections in the darkness. For Hanukkah, we do this by practicing pirsumei nisa, publicizing the miracle. We get to bask in the existence and spreading of light while intentionally sharing it with the world.
This Hanukkah, make it a point to light one another’s candles – no matter how many times they blow out.
Rabba Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez shares the light as the Jewish Camp Initiative manager at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.