Somehow, we have found ourselves in December, nearing the end of what for many has been the longest year ever. This evening the festival of Chanukah begins, Judaism’s contribution to the lights that many traditions bring through their festivals in winter.
Whilst Chanukah is a minor festival it’s often said that the commercialised nature of Christmas heightened Chanukah’s importance by comparison. While I’m sure this holds some truth, I wonder if part of the appeal is the light from the candles and the joy of the traditions that bring lightness to such a dark season. This week, thousands of people around the UK started to receive their Corona Virus vaccine; it feels miraculous to see the images and know that my grandparents will be getting theirs tomorrow. Suddenly the end to all of this is feeling possible, real, and not too far.
Chanukah celebrates the return to and dedication of a destructed temple, destroyed through civil war. Whenever the world is free of the hold coronavirus has on us, we will be allowed to return to something that looks like normal life. Many have spoken of ‘the new normal’, yet we have learned many lessons from this pandemic and seen inequalities highlighted. We have a chance to rededicate our society and community and be a part of making a world that we would be proud to live in and pass to future generations.
As the days count down to 21st December, the darkest day of the year, we light a candle counteracting the everfalling darkness. With each candle, we bring our own small light into the darkness and, as a difficult year draws to a close, we see a little light at the end of the tunnel.
Rabbi Anna Posner