A COVID Hanukkah
This year Hanukkah presents us with a unique opportunity. Our candles can help process our feeling about the past year. The shamash represents the traditional reminder about Hanukkah: A fight for religious freedom by our ancestors in Israel around 168 B.C. E. After that connection, I have given the Hanukkah candles new interpretations for this year.
The first candle recalls the hundreds of thousands of COVID victims around the world. The rapidly melting candles reminds us of how quickly their lives faded away.
The second candle is devoted to all the families of those who died. In many cases, they were not able to fully say goodbye to their loved ones. Perhaps tonight we, as a global family, can offer our thoughts and prayers for these families.
The third candle is directed to those who are called “long-haulers,” these are folks who have recovered from COVID, but have had lingering health issues. We offer them a refuah shlama, a complete healing.
The fourth candle is dedicated to the scientists, researchers and technicians working tirelessly in finding a vaccine against COVID. Yasher koach to you all. Job well done!
The fifth candle acknowledges the doctors, nurses and EMTs who risk so much every day to help all their patients. We owe them our eternal thanks and gratitude.
The sixth candle is for the patient reps, the attendants, the food workers, the hospital janitors. Todah rabah. Thanks for all you do.
The seventh candle is for our family and friends that we have connected with on Zoom throughout this ordeal. As the ancient Maccabees fought against a larger foe, we also fight against a viral enemy, knowing that with the help of the Almighty, we will emerge victorious.
Eighth and final night: As all the candles are lit, think about 2021 and what awaits us: A new vaccine, new hope for the future and a return to a “new normal.”
Hanukkah gifts: It would be appropriate this year to use some of the money spent on Hanukkah gifts and give tzdaka for those in need.
Have a healthy and happy Hanukkah and a bright 2021.
Rabbi Albert Slomovitz is associate rabbi at Congregation Etz Chaim, history professor at Kennesaw State University and founder of the Jewish Christian Discovery Center.