A Chanukah Message from Jodi Danis

A Chanukah Message from Jodi Danis

Atlanta Jewish Times staff wishes our community Happy Chanukah.

Jodi Danis
Jodi Danis

Be The Light

I remember back in high school when we were assigned Elie Wiesel’s autobiographical novel, “Night,” for our literature class. I needn’t go into detail about the book that so many, if not all, of us as Jews have read; the darkness and atrocities Wiesel witnessed and endured are part of our painful, collective history. But I read his powerful story during a time when books weren’t banned, history wasn’t being erased, and the mantra “Never Forget” seemed sacrosanct. Today, Jews are living in tumultuous times again, and it is not a far leap to worry that history may one day repeat itself.

Never during my lifetime have I witnessed the level of overt antisemitism that we are experiencing right now. A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League cited 2021 as being the highest year on record for documented instances of violence and harassment against American Jews. The past few years have included a resurgence of neo-Naziism; ever-growing denial about the Holocaust; attacks on synagogues; white nationalists marching with torches; swastikas across school campuses; celebrities who openly glorify Jew hatred on social media; biased media representation; and politicians who remain silently complicit in the face of vile, antisemitic rhetoric.

Amidst this growing darkness, I find inspiration from another book of Wiesel’s, his late-life memoir, “Open Heart,” where he concludes that “even in darkness it is possible to create light and encourage compassion.” Now, more than ever, it is critical that we, as Jews, make our voices heard in order to create that light. Stand up and speak out about hate. Educate others about harmful stereotypes and disinformation. Call out those who seek to perpetuate antisemitic beliefs and use dangerous language. Demand elected officials take a stand publicly when such incidents occur. Advocate for stronger policies to protect Jews. And wear your Star of David with pride!

As we light our Chanukah candles this year, may they be a beacon of hope for a more peaceful future. While I find encouragement in the late Wiesel’s words and faith, I also have faith in the next generation ready to lead us and stand up for what is right. I look to our first National Youth Poet Laureate, the inspiring Amanda Gorman, and her stirring words that shine not only for Jews, but for all of us: “There is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Jodi Danis is the business manager for Atlanta Jewish Times.

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