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don't let the light go out

12/15/2022 10:57:44 AM

Dec15

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

Have you ever stood outside on a cold, crisp night and marveled at the ability of the full moon to reflect light from the sun 91.5 million miles away and be so bright? Or the light that a single havdalah candle provides in an otherwise dark chapel? Or the reassuring ner tamid constantly aglow in the sanctuary? The nature of light that causes it to eliminate darkness transcends science, frequently becoming a moral, ethical or religious rejection of all that darkness symbolizes.

I adopted that concept in the address card in my email, the information that follows one’s name. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote a book in 1963 entitled “Strength to Love”.  It is a collection of his sermons that focused primarily on racial segregation, and he infused religious values. He wrote: Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.  H cannot drive out H, only love can do that.”

The darkness of antisemitism threatens to overwhelm us. Only light can dispel it. I vividly remember Chanukah 2018.  We had been privileged to receive as a gift an outdoor Chanukah menorah from an individual who manufactures them. I recall the immense pride as our invited guests collectively “lit” the menorah as my tears poured down my face. An antisemite had tried once again to eradicate us, but we were still here. We didn’t let the light go out. Etz Hayim Chai.  The Tree of Life lives.

That feeling continues to fuel my passion, as the antisemites and their darkness persevere. How should we respond? If there is one group that formulated a response to the threat of darkness it was the Maccabees. A small minority of Jews withstood and defeated a superior enemy bent on its destruction. They rededicated their Holy Temple and rekindled lights. One day soon we will emulate the Maccabees at Tree of Life and rededicate our holy temple. However, we must recall their bravery and not merely kindle our Chanukah menorot, but display them in our windows to say to the world: I am a link to a people that has been a continuous presence on this planet for 4,000 years, and I am proud to be Jewish.

For those reading this, you are warmly invited to stand with your community this coming Sunday evening, December 18, at 7:00PM, when we light the outdoor Chanukah menorah at the corner of Shady and Wilkins. For those unable to join us in person, you can join us virtually at www.Facebook.com/treeoflifepgh.  Tree of Life will never let the lights go out.

Wed, February 1 2023 10 Shevat 5783