At Chanukah, we are supposed to light our Chanukiah in the window or some other public place. The obligation is to “publicize the miracle,” sharing our pride as a Jewish community and our joy in this season with our neighbors and broader community.
This year, most of our Chanukah celebrations will take place in the privacy of our homes. While our social distancing precautions are critical in keeping one another safe during this pandemic, they will alter our experience of this season and can make us feel more isolated at a time when we wish for the closeness of community.
And so even more than we might usually, let us all think creatively about ways to publicize the miracle. We can put our Chanukah lights in the most public and visible places we can – while still keeping in mind fire safety! – because that affirms the belief and hope that others will see them and us. We imagine all of the Jewish communities around the world doing the same. We can remember that sharing light and hope is not limited to our chanukiah but are also found in the ways we share our blessings and resources to provide assistance to others who are struggling.
This year, when there are so many people in need, battling mental illness, food insecurity, unemployment, health challenges and other major crises, we can “be the light” for them by donating to important causes, lending a hand where safe and possible, and advocating for their benefit. In the same way that we put effort into our Chanukah menorah, we can put extra effort into making sure that we see those in our community who are particularly isolated and in need of a phone call or support to lift them up this season.
This is an unusual year, but our efforts to prioritize safety this Chanukah will make it possible to gather in person next year. We pray that this will be a meaningful, light-filled Chanukah for you and your loved ones!
Rabbis Peter Berg, Loren Filson Lapidus, Sam Kaye, Lydia Medwin and Steven Rau, and Cantor Deborah Hartman are all members of The Temple’s clergy team.