This year our two sons, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, ages eight and four, sat around our Thanksgiving table. When asked what they were thankful for, the responses reflected appreciation for family and friends; toys; school and community activities; opportunities to travel; good health, etc. My daughter-in-law included some of the above and added ” the importance of making each day count. We are blessed to live in a country that allows us freedom of choice, freedom to reach our goals, to work and achieve success in whatever areas we select to pursue, to practice our religion and tospeak out and give voice to our beliefs.” We experienced love and joy around our table, grateful for all the blessings we have and mindful of those who have much less in their lives.
On Tuesday evening, December 12th we light the first candle of Hanukkah. Family and friends join in special games and songs; gifts are exchanged and children receive Hanukkah gelt; and we eat latkes and jelly doughnuts ( sufganiot) prepared In oil.
In “Celebration: Hanukkah”, a Women’s League publication:
“Hanukkah is not of biblical origin, but was decreed after a military victory in 165 B.C.E. Although many once important festivals have long been forgotten, Hanukkah has endured. Perhaps the appeal of the holiday lies in its universal theme of freedom, the inspiring message of its legends, and the warmth of its traditions.
In modern day Israel, Hanukkah represents the continuation of the struggle for Jewish nationhood, Jewish identity and Jewish independence. Hanukkiot are displayed atop water towers, synagogues , schools, the Knesset and other public buildings.
The major feat of the Maccabees was the triumph of a Jewish way of life over Hellenism. This struggle is still being fought today, particularly in any home where a child would rather play sports, take gymnastics or ballet than attend religious school, or an adult thinks that the study of Judaism is only for children. We enhance Jewish life when we take on Jewish study as family activity of life-long importance, and Hanukkah is a good time to begin to study together at home.”
On behalf of the MetroNorth region Board, I wish you a joyous and meaningful Hanukkah , filled with the love of family and friends and the shining light from the Menorah.