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Special Hanukkah message from Rabbi Kinberg: Night 1 5784

Tonight at sundown, which by us is 4:22 pm, we will light the first candle of the menorah. We are bringing in Hanukkah 5784. We have been celebrating Hanukkah together as a people for over

2000 years. And each year we increase the light each night until the menorah is all lit up, aglow, shining bright at our darkest time of the year.

This year more people than ever in my career have asked me: is it safe to put out our menorah this year? One of the primary Mitzvot of Hanukkah is to make the miracle of our survival known, the miracle of Hanukkah known, by putting our menorahs in the window or front yard.

Public. The point of this Mitzvah is to be public with our Judaism, public with the light of Jewish survival. But if it is not safe? Then we do not need to be public. We can be private in our celebration if it is too dangerous.

Is it too dangerous this year?

Anti-Semitism in the Seattle area is at an all-time high. Is this a year for public celebration?

Yes and no. Such a Jewish answer. On one hand-we are some of the safest Jews to ever live. This is because we have local, state, and federal law enforcement on our side. This is rare within Jewish history. By and large, Jews have been victims of the authorities in the many places we have lived while in exile over the past 2000 years. But here? I know that the FBI is watching over our local Jewish communities because we hear from them, that they are paying attention to threats to the Jewish community and they let us know. We have friends in our law enforcement in this nation. Thank goodness. And this should give us a sense of security and calm.

Menorahs in the windows? Yes. Yes, please. Let them shine! I think this year it is not only okay but important to let them shine from inside your home to the outside.

On the other hand, we know Israeli flags are being torn down in our area from the front steps, and Jewish institutions have been defaced and threatened. Anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments are strong and those who hate us feel emboldened to not just speak hateful words but also to act. This is not a usual Hanukkah. This year we are indeed in a heightened state of awareness of those who seek to harm us.

Huge Hanukkah yard displays? Inflatables in our front yards? I would not recommend it.

I am looking forward to better years when we can light up our homes and shine blue and white throughout the neighborhood. But not this year. We do not want to tempt fate and put our wonderful bold and bright Hanukkah decorations out in full force. This is not the year


Our reality is this: we take our security status day by day, week by week, year by year. Each year we light the menorah and sing of days of yore when we were able to fight back against those who sought to extinguish our light. We sing words of gratitude because we won our freedom. What does it mean to win as a Jew? To survive. To pass the light to the next generation. That is what gives us great joy--simply making it to this special season again.

As we light this year we will remember those of our people who are in darkness, taken hostage, and completely without light. We will light for them.

When we light this year let us light for the families of all Israelis impacted by the horrors of October 7th. Their healing is our healing. Their uplift is our uplift. The future will demand even more of us in our support for our Israeli siblings.

Our lighting this year can also be creating light for all those who are impacted by this war between Israel and Hamas. Both Palestinian and Israeli innocents have lost...everything. Lost their homes, their families, their limbs, their lives...war is hell for everyone. We light for them too.

And let our menorahs be a sign of hope and peace too. Humanity is not supposed to live like this. We exist to love and nurture each other, not to kill and harass each other. This is the true nature of humanity. Peace is possible. Healing is possible. We can and will create a better and brighter world for future generations. And when those future people light their menorahs, when we are their ancestors, they will remember us. They will remember our work to build a better world.

Therefore, put the menorah in the window. Keep the inflatables deflated this year AND do one more thing for me. Invite people in. Neighbors, friends, co-workers...

Invite people who are not Jewish into your home to light with you! Bring people into the warmth of Hanukkah. Invite people into our light. Let the world know of our survival through friendship and connection. Share Hanukkah. Share the beauty of Judaism.

And one more thing. We have a goal of raising $5000 for our usual Hanukkah appeal. We are a very small-budget organization. This year we are raising our Hanukkah goal to $13,000, adding $8,000 to our goal. This $8000 represents funding security guards for 8 Friday nights and 8 Saturday mornings. We are cutting our in-person gatherings and going to zoom for some of our services and programs to make our security dollars stretch. But gathering together in-person is also vital for the joy and sustainability of our community. If you are in a position to give at this time, please consider Kol Ami. You can make a tax-deductible donation here.

Thank you for supporting Kol Ami and being a member or friend to our little community.

love and latkes,

Rabbi Kinberg

Additional prayers and readings for Hanukkah this year:

A Hanukkah Candle Lighting Prayer for Difficult Times

by Jacqueline Goldfinger

Praise be to You, Adonai, Ruler of the universe, Creator of darkness and light. We sing of Your glory l’dor v’dor –from generation to generation–in quiet prayer and in roaring celebration. Tonight, as we light the candles, we remember that even a dark, desecrated place can be rededicated to You. There is nowhere Your light does not reach, no darkness that is beyond You. The cracks in our broken hearts let the light in; they make space for growth, renewal, and healing. This Hanukkah, we rededicate ourselves to You in worship and in study, in thought and in deed, in joy and in hardship, working towards devekut–deepening our connection with You–for all time. Amen.

The Hidden Light

by Cyd Weissman

Passed from every generation, these are rules for how to spark light in the darkest days, Kislev to Kislev: Place the shamash first, then put candles right to left. Make sure to light them left to right. Three blessings you will sing on the first night, only two for the rest of chag. Don’t work while the candles shimmer. Place the hanukkiah so all can see. Light the hanukkiah before Shabbat. This year, I discovered a hidden light passed from every generation, seeing it only when I needed it most: the sivivon flickers, too. Spinning, I vividly envision: Nes Gadol Haya Sham. A Great Miracle Happened There. A prayer for release of our captives:

Our family, the whole house of Israel, who are in distress, or in captivity — who stand either in the sea or on dry land — may the Omnipresent have mercy on them and take them out from narrowness to expanse, and from darkness to light, and from oppression to redemption, now, swiftly, and soon!

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