As Chanukah approaches, our friends and neighbors in the northeast are struggling to recover from Hurricane Sandy. Many in the Jewish community have lost everything and are not able to return to their homes. Others are without electricity, a kosher meal or a place to congregate. The children of the Sholem Epelbaum Chabad Hebrew School at Chabad of Kendall/Pinecrest have opened their hearts to help those recovering from this devastating storm. Their mission: To light up the souls of Jewish families in Staten Island, New York, with the light of Torah and Mitzvot.
On Sunday, Dec. 2, the children gathered at Chabad to make Chanukah cards and write letters of hope and encouragement to the children and families of Chabad of Staten Island. Along with these heartfelt sentiments, the children sent our friends menorahs and candles, so they can celebrate Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, beginning Saturday, Dec. 8, at sundown. After all, our sages said, “A little light expels a lot of darkness.”
The Chanukah lights remind us in a most obvious way that illumination begins at home, within oneself and one’s family, by increasing and intensifying the light of Torah and Mitzvos in the everyday experience. Though it begins at home, it does not stop there. The Chanukah lights, which illuminate the “outside,” bring light also to those who, for one reason or another, still walk in darkness.
Chanukah recalls the victory of a spiritually strong Jewish people over the forces of a ruthless enemy that had overrun the Holy Land and threatened to engulf the land and its people in darkness. The lighting of the Chanukah menorah serves as a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, spirit over matter, light over darkness.
It is a timely and reassuring message, for the forces of darkness are ever present. The danger does not come exclusively from outside forces; it often lurks close to home, in the form of erosion of time-honored values and principles that are at the foundation of decent human society.
Let us pray that the message of the Chanukah lights will illuminate the everyday life of everyone personally, and of society at large, for a brighter life in every respect, both materially and spiritually.
Join us for a Chanukah Barbecue Cookoff on Sunday, Dec. 9, 12:30 p.m. The funfilled family celebration will include a moon bounce, face painting and arts and crafts for the children. Everyone will enjoy delicious barbecue and hot latkes and doughnuts. Reservations are required, and the cost is $10 per person or $36 per family.
For more information, go to www.chabadofkendall.org, visit us at 8700 SW 112 St., or call 305-234-5654.