December 23, 2022

I hope you have had a joyful and bright Hanukkah! It was so wonderful to begin the holiday with so many of you at Dublin Bridge Park as we lit the first candle together as a community and watched the bridge light up in blue in honor of Hanukkah. The invitation for this event came from Dublin’s Community for Inclusion and is part of a larger effort by the city of Dublin to celebrate and honor the incredible diversity within their community. It was such a blessing to join with many community members who are not connected to Beth Tikvah but wanted to be with us to celebrate.

It was not lost on me how much courage it took to show up in public to celebrate a Jewish holiday. At this moment in history, it was perhaps even more powerful that we showed up more than 150 people strong, not to mention in the freezing cold, to mark the first night of Hanukkah. This holiday reminds us of the opportunity to stand up for what we know is right and just. We live in a country that was established on the principles of religious freedom and we should never be forced to feel that we cannot show who we are. Hanukkah is also a holiday of resilience in which we show our strength and in response to those who might oppress us.

I was also moved by those who showed up to be with us and the allyship that they demonstrated. Another display of allyship this week occurred on the Peloton in which instructor Bradley Rose created the first ever Hanukkah ride. Rose, though not Jewish, said he was creating the ride as a demonstration of allyship, tolerance, and respect. He knew that the Jewish community has faced a rise in antisemitism in recent months. In reseponse, he took the messages of light, resilience, and strength, which are central to Hanukkah’s message, and brought them to the bike. If you are around on Sunday at 2 PM there will be a large group ride, consider joining with riders from around the world who will ride together. As I rode the bike earlier this week, I could not help but feel this incredible gesture of support from the Peloton community. (Earlier this month, in response to Kanye West’s continued antisemitic rhetoric, they removed every ride that had has music – earlier this year, they had announced no new rides would contain his music). Even if you have already done the ride, ride again!

Bradley Rose let his light shine and inspires us to think about how we can shine our own light. As we continue to add more lights to the Hanukkiah over the next few days, may we also think about what we can do to bring the lessons we have learned by retelling the story of the Maccabees to the world around us. In what ways we will stand up for those who face injustice? How can we find the strength to show up for what we believe in and for what we know is right? We might consider reflecting on these questions in these final days of Hanukkah. When we no longer have the ritual of lighting the Hanukkiah after these eight days, may each of us be a candle that brightens the darkened world.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Urim Sameach,

Rabbi Rick Kellner