A highlight of our Chanukah is without a doubt erecting the giant 9-foot menorah in front of our house on Ridge Road. The kids always look forward to the day that it is put up, and they take it upon themselves to ensure that each night of Chanukah the appropriate amount of candles are lit.
Over the years we have heard from many people how special it is to see this display and how meaningful it is to them. In fact, one year we received a letter in the mail from a woman we don’t know, saying that every Chanukah she looks forward to seeing the menorah, and she even makes a detour on her way to work each day in order to pass it.
What is most intriguing about this is that many of the people that comment about the menorah are not Jewish. One would think that with the Town being flooded with holiday lights and decorations on every street and block, this one symbol of Judaism would barely be noticed.
Yet the opposite is true, and in fact I am not at all surprised. The menorah has come to symbolize freedom to practice our faith in this country, and for everyone—no matter how small and seemingly insignificant—to have an impact on the world. We don’t suffice by celebrating with our families in the comfort of our homes; we make a point to share the light outwards.
Menorahs are lit in windows and doorways around the world, as well as in public squares and town centers, and even on a street in Munster. Because all it takes is one light, one solitary individual, to decide to make a difference and to impact the world.
The small but ever-increasing light of the Chanukah menorah reminds us that despite the darkness that might surround us, we can all shine and bring light to those around us. You, me, and every single person on this planet.
Similar to what we read in this week’s Torah portion, about Joseph refusing to assimilate in Egypt. He stood strong in the face of temptation, eventually becoming the leader and saving that country from famine. He was not concerned with being different than everyone else; his only agenda was making a difference and having a positive impact on people’s lives, even those that were of a different faith than him.
That is the message of Chanukah and that is the story of our giant menorah.
Please join us Saturday night at 7:00 PM for a grand menorah lighting and Chanukah party.
Shabbat shalom and happy Chanukah,
Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov