When I reflect on the Hanukkah story during this Season of Light, I am inspired by the perseverance of the Maccabees. Despite being outnumbered by the Syrians, the Maccabees defeated their enemy and remained true to the teachings of the Torah and the covenant made with G-d. They liberated Jerusalem and cleared the Holy Temple of idols. They built a new alter and were determined rededicate the temple. Though there was only enough pure oil to burn for one day, G-d rewarded their dedication with a miracle – the oil burned for eight days until more oil could be made.
When we are determined – when we come together – we, too, are rewarded. It is through the collective impact of our giving and the infrastructure created by federation that Jews all over the world feel the light, hope and blessings of Hanukkah.
As members of the Jewish community, we are responsible to ourselves and to each other. We are the light that gives hope to those in need – from victims of terrorists in Israel to Jews suffering in Ukraine. Through our values of tzedakah and tikkun olam, we build the vibrancy of our community and of Jewish communities in Israel and 70 countries throughout the world.
As you light the candles on each of the eight days, I encourage you to reflect on your blessings and how you can be a light: for children who deserve a Jewish education; young adults who wish to engage with their community; seniors who want to maintain their independence and Jewish dignity; and for Jews who are suffering overseas. I encourage you to be a light for the community and for those who receive help from the federation.
I ask you to make a year-end gift to the federation’s 2015 annual campaign. If you have already made a gift, I ask you to consider giving more. So many here in the Valley and around the world depend on us to be the light in their lives this holiday season.
Thank you for your generosity and best wishes for a happy Hanukkah.
Stuart Wachs is president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix.