By Marilyn Robinson
“The menorah serves as a symbol of light and hope amidst the darkness of the pandemic, as it did for generations before us,” said Rabbi Huebner of Chabad. “The flames of the menorah shineinto the night, reminding us that even when confronted with much darkness, a tiny light can dispel it all. Another act of goodness and kindness, another act of light, can make all the difference.”
This year, for the first time, a Hanukkah menorah was placed at Parque Juarez and was lit daily throughout the eight-day holiday. This year’s menorah lighting was done as a message of hope during what for many is a very difficult time. Chabad of SMA also distributed menorahs, candles, and Hanukkah-at-home kits to those celebrating at home. The menorah was unique in that it was locally designed and constructed by artist and designer Meila Penn, who put many long hours of work into it, producing a true work of art, with the help of local metalworker Rodolfo Valenzuela.
This year, as so many will be isolated at home, the menorah is a reminder that light can be brought to the darkest of times, and uniquely, at the core of the holiday’s observance is sharing the light with others who may not be experiencing it.
The worldwide Hanukkah campaign, by Chabad encourages the central theme of the holiday—publicizing the story of the Hanukkah miracle and the victory of light over darkness, a message of hope greatly needed today. In the decades since the Hanukkah awareness campaign began it has revitalized widespread observance of the Festival of Lights and brought it to the mainstream, returning what some have dismissed as a minor holiday to its roots as a public proclamation of the ultimate triumph of freedom over oppression.
Throughout the pandemic, Chabad has been on the front lines providing social, humanitarian and spiritual support to locals. The covid-safe menorah lighting is the latest of many innovative programs in response to these unique times by Chabad of SMA, including Passover Seders-to-go and Shabbat-in-a-box deliveries.
Hanukkah, recalls the victory of a militarily weak Jewish people who defeated the Syrian Greeks who had overrun ancient Israel and sought to impose restrictions on the Jewish way of life and prohibit religious freedom. They also desecrated the Temple and the oils prepared for the lighting of the menorah, which was part of the daily service. Upon recapturing the Temple only one jar of undefiled oil was found, enough to burn only one day, but it lasted miraculously for eight. In commemoration, Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting an eight-branched candelabrum known as a menorah. Today, people of all faiths consider the holiday a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, spirit over matter, light over darkness
Chabad of SMA offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for people of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations. For more information, contact Rabbi Daniel Huebner at Rabbi@ChabadSMA.com or visit ChabadSMA.com.