|Each night of Hanukkah you will receive a blessing from a fellow alum straight to your inbox. These 8 blessings will serve as reminders of the kind of analysis you did during your Corps year, and the types of reflections you have continued to do on your journeys as Jewish agents for social change. Happy Hanukkah! |
When we visualize the 8th night of Hanukkah we picture a hanukkia full of light. Behind this blazing light lies a classic Talmudic debate: We add one candle each night according to the opinion of Rabbi Hillel, who maintains that the number of lights should increase each night, corresponding to the number of days that have passed. Rabbi Shammai argued, however, that we should light 8 candles on the first night of Hanukka and decrease each day, to correspond with the numbers of days to come. Why do we follow the opinion of Rabbi Hillel?
One explanation is that the candles represent the growing magnitude of the miracle over the course of the eight days. Each day we build on the strength and inspiration of the day before, our excitement increases with the light.
The miracle that we commemorate with these lights, and the building of the lights, mirrors events we have witnessed this past year around the world - the overthrowing of oppressors in improbable victories that have dominoed to other victories. Revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, have led to uprisings in Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, and Morocco among others. Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City have inspired similar outcries in 95 cities across 82 countries. Light feeds more light, even in the cold of winter.
Until, it doesn't anymore. Hanukkah ends. The cold deepens. Revolutions wax and wane. And here perhaps is where we can appreciate the wisdom of Rabbi Shammai's approach, which is all about possibility - according to him we light full of anticipation of the days to come. And in Rabbi Shammai's spirit of possibility we pray that in looking hopefully toward the future we will keep our eyes on the prize even in the darkest and shortest of days.
In the spirit of Rabbi Hillel we pray that next year will be brighter than the year before. That each rededication of the temple through each relighting of the hanukkia strengthens the possibility each year of a world that is more renewed, more freed, more full of light.
May our kindling of the lights this year strengthen the lights in ourselves and in others. May our lighting this year and every year remind us of past triumphs and inspire us for the victories we have not yet won.
From strength to strength.
Becca Linden (CHI 06-07) graduated from Wesleyan University with High Honors and began worked as a community organizer for an interfaith non profit in Chicago through AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. While studying at Pardes Institute of Jewish studies for two years as the Weinstein Memorial Fellow, she founded a democratic philanthropy for her extended family, and co-created the Pardes Social Justice Track. Now getting an MPA at the Wagner School for Public Service and an MA in Jewish studies at NYU, Becca recently finished working for Encounter where she helped to plan and lead trips of Jewish leaders into the West Bank. Becca now works at Eden Village Camp, an environmentally based summer camp and organic farm in New York.