A Chanukah Message from Heather Blake

A Chanukah Message from Heather Blake

For our annual Chanukah issue, we asked members of our community to share why they think it is so important for our Jewish community to, "Shine Our Light Bold and Bright."

Heather Blake
Heather Blake

When I think of Chanukah, I am reminded of the song by Peter, Paul, and Mary: “Light one candle for the Maccabee children, with thanks that their light didn’t die…Don’t let the light go out! It’s lasted for so many years! Don’t let the light go out! Let it shine through our love and our tears.”

Studies show that antisemitism is on the rise. We see it in the news, and this can cast a dark shadow over us. Yet we can’t let fear win. We as a people have persevered.

I remember going to synagogue, after the Tree of Life shooting, at Etz Chaim, which means “Tree of Life,” and there were faith leaders from many communities to show their care and support. It was a full synagogue and I thought to myself, they did not win. We are here, showing up and I felt the magic and power of community.

The miracle of Chanukah is Judaism’s survival against all odds. I encourage you to get involved with Atlanta’s amazing Jewish organizations. There is something for everyone from social action, culture, Jewish learning, rituals, etc. By showing up and connecting with others, we show that the Jewish community is not going anywhere as it offers richness and meaning to our lives. Our Atlanta Jewish organizations are offering you the chance to light the flame if you will accept the candle.

Another darkness affecting the Jewish community is mental health exasperated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma around mental health that people are often embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help. People also do not always know where to begin to get help or getting help is cost prohibitive.

Recognize if you or a loved one is in a dark place and seek out resources. Mental struggles can make it feel as if there is endless darkness, yet there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Reach out to others and show you care. We all have the power to make a positive difference; an act of kindness can brighten someone’s day. Be the light shining a way through the darkness. As the menorah shines bright, I hope that all of you know the inner light that you bring into this world.

To learn more about Jewish organizations in Atlanta, visit the AJT 2022 Guide to Jewish Atlanta. To learn about Jewish mental health resources, go to thebluedovefoundation.org.

Heather Blake is the domestic allocations manager at Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.

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