The annual kindling of the lights of Chanukah has been a symbol of identity and hope for generations of Jews, pride in good times, and patience, even spiritual resistance, to oppression and suffering in hard times. Just knowing that Jewish homes all over the world are lighting chanukiyot each evening of Chanukah brings the spirit of Klal Yisrael to life.
Beyond a few basics, the menorah itself can be of any design so that it inspires us to observe hiddur ha-mitzvah, that is, to fulfill our obligation to remember and celebrate in ways that are aesthetically pleasing and creative. We are invited and encouraged to add to the beauty of our traditions, an opportunity to preserve and promote optimism about the future. Amid the stress and difficulty of staying safe and healthy this year, may we let the chanukiyah bring us together and light our way to happier days.
Beth Schwartz has been the rabbi of Temple Israel in Columbus, Ga. since 2012.