Harold Kirtz’s Chanukah Message for 2023

Harold Kirtz’s Chanukah Message for 2023

For our annual Chanukah issue, we asked members of our community to share their responses.

Harold Kirtz
Harold Kirtz

What Hanukkah Means

The holiday of Hanukkah commemorates the re-establishment of holy light in the Temple in Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. In the Torah, the Jewish people are commanded to be a holy nation, to bring light to the world. In this time of massacre, war, and increased antisemitism, it is difficult to see how and where to shine the light.

Israel has been and will be responding to the October 7 massacre of Israelis and others. Its response is being grossly criticized in ways that demonstrate the double standard that the world uses in judging Israel’s – and Jews’ – actions. While the loss of life of innocents in Gaza is regrettable – and Israel must do what it can to minimize that loss, it is Hamas that is the culprit, and it must be placed in such as position that it cannot or will not repeat the awful atrocities of October 7 or any atrocities at all.

As we work our way through Hanukkah this year, each of us must endeavor to shine our own light in ways large and small. The light that comes from our tradition, heritage, and learning must be our guides. In this season of Hanukkah, each of us must express our own commitment to truth, to justice, or to delivering an accurate picture of our place in the world and Israel’s place in the panoply of nations. We must insist that Israel be treated with the distinction and standing that other nations wish to be treated. And we must insist that Israel hold itself to the highest standards – whether that is in war or in democracy.

Every Jew must tap into the Jewish psyche. Even if you do not feel Jewish, or feel particularly Jewish these days, you must try to feel the connection with other Jews, with the Jewish community, with the Jewish world, and with Israel. As we approach Hanukkah, we must think of and act on our connections with each other.

Hanukkah is a time to light candles, to light our imaginations, and to light our way to a more Jewish experience and to a better world.

Harold Kirtz is a senior litigator with the Federal Trade Commission, and past president of JCRC, Temple Emanu-El, and The Weber School.

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