This is the most “if I don’t laugh I’ll cry” Hanukkah of my Gen X-Jewish life. Tragedy accumulates at a dizzying pace in Israel and Gaza, social media is a vitriol factory, irrationality and self-interest are indistinguishable from governing, and antisemitism and Islamophobia are trending. In dark times like this, sparks of peace, justice, joy, decency, and love are all the more precious. And the past week, reading about the accomplishments of the different Shomrot in our communities, was truly inspiring. Because of Hashomer Hatzair’s commitment to kindle, nurture, and pass on the flame, I celebrate this Hanukkah as a Shomeret and guard each precious light.
1. I dedicate this candle to a Shomeric vision of a more just future
2. I dedicate this candle to living that vision in our personal lives and extending it to our greater communities
3. I dedicate this candle to the community who circles the spark and guards it in inhospitable conditions
4. I dedicate this candle to recognizing the humanity in all people and every expression of compassion
5. I dedicate this candle to appreciating nuance and moving beyond binary us vs. them thinking
6. I dedicate this candle to the humility of understanding that no one knows the whole story or has a monopoly on truth. This allows us to disagree with true respect
7. I dedicate this candle to the part of us, as individuals and as a group, that refuses to sit forever in the dark even in our despair
8. I dedicate this candle to Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.
Lighting the way this Hanukkah–whether that is kindling hope and compassion, taking active steps toward eventual peace and equality, or gaining perspective through humor–is our sacred duty. As a Shomeret, with generations of life affirming, kind, dedicated, principled, and creative Shomrim preceding and following me, I have been prepared to help kindle the light in this moment with you.