Rabbi Peter Berg’s Chanukah Message for 2023

Rabbi Peter Berg’s Chanukah Message for 2023

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

Rabbi Peter S. Berg is the senior rabbi of The Temple.

Rabbi Peter Berg of The Temple
Rabbi Peter Berg of The Temple

Light A Candle

Since the bloody Hamas attack on Israel on the seventh of October and the explosion of antisemitism that has followed, we have all dedicated our hearts and lives to both the State of Israel and to becoming our best, most authentic Jewish selves in Atlanta.

Light is a perfect metaphor for that kind of dedication. The adage “don’t curse darkness, light a candle” – reminds us that only when the light of dedication burns brightly within us, can we hope to see through the dreary darkness of the challenges all around us.

Chanukkah gives us the opportunity to reflect on the courage of those whose dedication helped us preserve Judaism from extinction. Had the Hasmonean family, Mattathias and his sons, chosen the more cautious path, Judaism would likely have been suspended by Hellenism and perished.

What they realized is that the very survival of Judaism demanded that they act immediately and decisively, outnumbered or not. If they waited, it would be too late. They seized the moment and made sure the flame of Judaism would never be extinguished.

When one candle lights another, the one that contributes to the flame is not diminished by its gift. It continues to burn brightly while the recipient bursts forth with a flame of its own. The light is doubled.

So it is with dedication – dedication to Israel and dedication to our Jewish community in Atlanta. The more we contribute, the more darkness is dispelled, and the more light is created. Far from being diminished, dedicated doers seem to increase their own commitment even as they inspire dedication in others.

The real miracle of Chanukkah is not the tiny cruse of oil that lasted for eight days but rather the dedicated few who could conquer the apathy of the many, … and in the process, fan the faint spark into a sustainable flame.

Now is the time to dedicate ourselves, in the spirit of the Maccabees, to preserving and strengthening our Jewish future. In this horrific hour, let us be courageous and dedicated modern Maccabees.

Rabbi Peter Berg is the Senior Rabbi of The Temple, Atlanta Ga.

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