It is almost surreal to see and feel the eternal powers of the Chanukah lights as they encapsulate and pulsate Jewish eternity, pride and purpose. As the tiny flames flicker atop the wicks drawing fuel from the oil or wax to where they are attached, they reflect a continuing vista of Jewish life and experience that bridge the gamut of more than two thousand years of exile.
In their swaying and dancing motion, reaching upward and outward, eliminating darkness and providing holy, selfless light the special flames of the Chanukah Menorah tell a myriad stories of Jewish yearning, dancing and reaching desperately to their source of life, to continue burning and illuminating.
Over the past week, I too personally traversed the different manifestations of the Chanukah lights as they proclaimed absolute values and standards in a world of relativity.
On Sunday The Shul hosted our 5th annual Menorah Parade. Hundreds of children and adults in over 90 cars with Menorahs adorning their roofs, 2 double decker buses and a stretch limousine paraded through Bal Harbour, Bay Harbour and Surfside. Traffic was completely stopped as police officers chaperoned the caravan. With the sounds of Jewish music permeating 33154 we began the celebration of Chanukah. The parade culminated at The Shul where a professional BMX show, games and celebration took place and at nightfall the first of the candles were lit illuminating the faces of the happy crowd of participants. Each night our Bochorim visit and spread the light and warmth of Chanukah visiting 8 – 10 homes and dressed as the “Macabees” light the Menorah, play dreidel with the kids and celebrate. The light continues to spread. The second night of Chanukah we hosted the Surfside Chanukah Celebration where more than 250 people joined us. Nightly public Menorahs at The Shul, Surfside Town Hall, Founder’s Square in Bal Harbour and Bay Harbour, light up the streets and continue to impact and spread the light throughout 33154.
On Tuesday, the second day of Chanukah, we lit the Menorah with the U.S. Southern Command hosted by 4 Star General John Kelly and organized by our own Mr. Shaya Gheblikian with over 60 military personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, FBI, CIA and Homeland Security. General Kelly addressed the audience together with myself. On Wednesday our entire pre-school together with their parents enjoyed a Chanukah sing along and Menorah lighting. From there I traveled to a Federal Prison sharing the lighting of the Menorah and Chanukah celebration with approximately 15 Jewish inmates who each lit 4 candles on their own Menorah, filling the room with the beautiful aroma and smoke of 75 burning candles, I realized that we are G-d’s chosen and beloved.
We continue this spreading of light with our own internationally renowned Torah Science Conference where more than 18 Scientists, Rabbis and Scholars will light the physical Menorah while expounding spiritual light.
In each of these radically different environments ranging from the dignified military base, to the majesty and holiness of our Shul, to the warmth of our homes, to the pride of our
public places to the darkness and painful reality of prison, there was a common denominator that broke through all boundaries and represented a singular message of love, hope, light and goodness. The tiny Chanukah lights that burned brightly in each place transcended the limits of these environments and brought all who were there to a higher and holier place.
It was as if the lights spoke their own language, bridging different spaces, cultures, environments and conditions to envelope all who were within their glorious grasp and reach in a warm eternal embrace of “Am Yisroel Chai” – “over the top” and “Netzach Yisroel Lo Yeshaker (the eternity of Israel will never diminish).
May these lights that we kindle during the 8 days of Chanukah herald the expected lights of our Beit Hamikdash and be an integral part of Isaiah’s prophesy and charge “You (Israel) shall be a light unto all of the Nations”.
Have a great Chanukah, Shabbos and week,
Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar