There is a story of Rabbi Israel from Salanter, went for a walk in the neighborhood one dark winter evening. Along the way, he saw a small house with a dim light in the window that glowed in the darkness. The light drew him to the house, and he entered it.
In the faint light he saw a shoemaker fixing shoes in a hurry; hitting the hammer at full force.
The rabbi asked him: "Why are you working this late at night to repair shoes?” The man replied: "As long as the candle is burning there's still time to work and repair."
The Rabbi left the shoemaker’s home and went to back to his neighborhood walk. But as he was walking, he began reciting the shoemaker’s words first to himself and then aloud for everyone to hear: "Dear Jews: As long as the candle is burning, there's still time to work and repair."
Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, and we, too, begin by bringing small flickers of light into our homes. These two small flames will grow over the eight days of this Festival of Lights so that one week from tonight the entire Hanukkiah will shine brightly. Though tonight’s flames are faint, they are nevertheless warm; they are still symbols of life and love even amidst the dark shadows of winter. The light of Hanukkah also represents energy and possibility; the spark that each of us carries inside of us, but is meant to be shared out in the world. After all, the Maccabees taught us that our mission as Jews is to illumine the world with moral character and bring light and life to those people and places that are in need of our warmth and integrity.
May this year’s Festival of Lights inspire us to do a little bit more than last year to improve and repair our world. May our energy and resolve to work on behalf of justice and compassion for all humanity increase in the coming days and weeks, just as we increase the light of the Hanukkiah one candle at a time. When we look at the lights in the darkness, may we be reminded of the shoemaker and his message: “As long as the candle is burning, there is still time to work and repair.”
I wish each of you and your families a Hanukkah filled with health and happiness, light and love.
~Rabbi Lisa S. Eiduson
Hanukkah 2017 - Congregation B’nai Torah
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל חֲנֻכָּה
Ba-ruch a-tah A-do-nai, E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam, a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner, shel Ha-nu-kah.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, Who sanctifies us with commandments, and commands us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Ba-ruch a-tah A-do-nai, E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam she-a-sah ni-sim l’a-vo-tei-nu, ba-ya-mim ha-hem ba-ze-man ha-zeh.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who did miracles for our ancestors in days of old, at this season.
For the FIRST night (TUESDAY 12/12/17) of HANUKKAH ONLY:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָֽנוּ וְקִיְּמָֽנוּ
וְהִגִּיעָֽנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Ba-ruch a-tah A-do-nai, E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam, she-he-chy-a-nu, ve-ki-ye-ma-nu,
ve-hi-gi-a-nu, la-ze-man ha-zeh.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who given us life,
sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.