When I think about the brightness of Hanukkah, I think of the “Shehekiyanu,” the third blessing we recite on the first night of Hanukkah. We recite this blessing at certain sacred occasions and at joyous moments – anytime we wish to stop and acknowledge the greatness of the moment, appreciate it, and say, “This is a glorious moment. Thank you, God.”
Someone once told me to “love what is right in front of you.” When we are content with what we have, we are free to love those not only in FRONT of us, but those AROUND us and BEYOND us, those who we may not know and those who need, deserve, and offer kindness just the same.
Life is composed of ups, downs, the space in between, and hopefully, lots of glorious “Shehekiyanu” moments. During those dark and bumpy times, we get by because of the people in our lives. Some are so close to us that it feels like they hold us up when we cannot get by on our own. Others may be strangers, and their gentle actions cause us to smile and remember that the world is still a good place filled with kind people who can live together in peace.
Lauren Cohn is a community Reform rabbi-educator. She is the rabbi of Temple Beth El in Anniston, Ala., and the Hebrew coordinator at Temple Sinai.