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Chanukah commemorates the rededication of The Temple after it was defiled and desecrated by hateful, barbaric invaders that wanted to eliminate Judaism.
Since October 7th, we have mourned together … cried together … marched together and prayed together … and we will keep coming together with a resilience and determination unmatched in our generation. With each Chanukah candle that we light, we bring light to all who need it, including:
First candle – Victims: For the more than 1,200 innocent civilians murdered – including women and children who were brutally raped and tortured – may your memories be for a blessing. For you and the thousands more wounded and traumatized by Hamas, we will not allow the world to turn a blind eye to the savagery of your attackers or the pain you endured.
Second candle – Hostages: For those who were stolen from their families by Hamas terrorists, we promise we will never give up fighting for you until you are free. We know your names. We tell your stories to everyone. And we will continue to do so until you come back home.
Third candle – Elderly: For those who suffered through the horrors of the Holocaust and are again being confronted with a hatred this evil, we promise that your life’s work has not been in vain. Your courage, resiliency, and determination have given us the foundation that makes us strong today.
Fourth candle – Young children: For those we tuck in at night, we did not want you to know from hate. We will keep working to deliver you a better world than our own – a world in which no child needs to be afraid of their neighbors.
Fifth candle – College students and young adults: For those now being confronted on campus and online with a hatred of Jews, know that you are not now – nor will you ever be – alone. We are here to support you. To work with you. And to learn from you. We believe in you and will do whatever we can to help you stand up for yourself and the values and traditions of the Jewish people.
Sixth candle – IDF, U.S. military, law enforcement, and first responders: For those who risk their lives every day to protect ours, we pray for your safety and ask G-d to watch over you in these turbulent and uncertain times. We can never adequately thank you for all you do to keep us out of evil’s reach.
Seventh candle – Leaders in Greater Cleveland: For those who have stood steadfast beside your Jewish brethren, we thank you for unwavering support and willingness to speak out on our behalf despite the resulting attacks on your reputation. For others who have privately expressed support but have been unwilling to condemn Hamas’ barbaric actions and the rising antisemitism in its wake, your silence is deafening. We implore you to stand with us and make clear that hatred towards Jews has no place in our city.
Eighth candle – “The Brave”: Finally, for those in Gaza with the courage to resist Hamas’ oppression, we pray for the day when neighbors can live side by side in peace. And for all those around the world who fight against terrorism and extremists in your midst, we stand firmly with you as we fight hate in all its forms.
On the menorah, the shamash candle is the strong and steady one that brings light to every other candle. Without the shamash, the miracle of Chanukah cannot be replicated. Let us be the shamash for all those who need light – or to be enlightened – this year. Let us create a modern-day Chanukah miracle together.
Shabbat shalom and chag sameach!
Daniel N. Zelman
Erika B. Rudin-Luria
p.s.: Thank you to all who bring light to Jewish Cleveland and our world by supporting our community’s Campaign for Jewish Needs. If you have not yet made your pledge, there’s still time. Visit jewishcleveland.org before the Campaign closes on December 13th.