When you light your Chanukah candles this coming week – in addition to using that flame to bring light to this dark time of year – I ask you to use those same flames to ignite another kind of fire.
In recent weeks, especially since the bombings in Paris, many people in the Micah community have reached out to me about the crisis of the Syrian refugees. Driven by concern, compassion and justice people have asked me, “Can we do something?”
While these families are not the only families in the world seeking safety and security, the plight of these Syrian families seemed to have struck at something deep and significant for many of us.
In the next week we will gather in various settings and gatherings to light the Chanukah menorah. We will enjoy latkes, exchange gifts and most importantly bask in the glow of love, security and peace. Among these physical, emotional and spiritual blessings of Chanukah, I ask you to make some room in your hearts and in your minds for these families fleeing or seeking to flee Syria.
In our Chanukah story it is the Syrian Greeks who violently confront the Maccabees. Some 2200 years later, let’s change the narrative. In pursuing their highest values our ancestors turned against the Syrians of their age. Let us pursue our highest values and turn our hearts towards these Syrians of our day and age.
I ask you to take One Night and kindle One Light for the Syrian Refugees this Chanukah. Use that light to ignite the fire of compassion, justice and peace. And then, let us see where this ignited fire will take us in the coming weeks and months.
Here is what I propose that our community begins this Chanukah…
1) One Night, One Light for Syrian Refugees … Take one night this Chanukah and dedicate it to the plight of the Syrian Refugees. What would this dedication look like? Here are some ideas, but use your own creativity:
- Dedicate the Chanukah menorah lighting to these families for that night
- Light an extra candle or entire Chanukah menorah for one of these families
- Collect and share some stories from your own family of people leaving their home (by choice or force) to make a better life
- Contact one of your congressional representatives telling them that you want the US to welcome these families.
- Make a donation as a family to one of these organizations who is working on these families’ behalf: Multifaith Alliance; Hebrew Immigration Aid Society; Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief
2) Ask the Questions: What is the REAL Story? … We are in communication with a few people in the Denver community who can teach us about the political, social and historical context for these families. Look for an upcoming opportunity to learn more with us about the experience of these families who are to be so prevalent in our hearts and minds.
3) Help Get Us Ready … Our community wants to be involved in helping families who eventually do make their way to the US and Denver. We need a few people to help figure out what this can look like for our community and how we can make this happen. Please let me know if you want to help us in the coming weeks to accomplish this task.
May the Chanukah lights we ignite this year inspire us to try and bring light to where there may be darkness.