With Hanukkah upon us – I’d like to reflect a little on the meaning of Hanukkah for me.
The lighting of the eight candled Menorah is symbolic of the triumph of light over darkness, of good over evil.
The lighting of the Menorah represents the eight days a small amount of oil burned and gave the Maccabees, victorious in preserving their holy place and moral beliefs, a miraculous eight days of holy light – it was a triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
I think this is the right time of year to count some of our Jewish Blessings!
And I can think of some big ones -
Where would the western world be without Jewish Philanthropy?
Where would our institutions be without the charitable contributions of the Jewish culture?
How many libraries would not have been built?
How many hospitals would not exist?
How many studies would not have been undertaken?
How many elder care facilities would never have been started?
How many patients not served?
When there is need the Jewish Community is the fore front – anticipating and responding with institutions that form the very core of our lives.
How many theaters, cultural centers, museums and art programs would never have breathed?
Where would we be without Jewish Creativity?
What no Bob Dylan? What no Barbara Streisand?
How many first nights would never have opened?
How many plays would never have been written?
Where would we be without Arthur Miller, and Neil Simon and Carl Reiner?
How many movies would not have been made?
How many galleries never supported?
What no Guggenheim?
How many books unwritten?
What -no Leon Uris, or JD Salinger or Elie Wiesel?
How many actors not seen?
When there is art – the Jewish community is in attendance – enjoying, participating and giving.
Where would we be without Jewish Business?
No Leslie Wexner?
No Levi Strauss?
No Barbie Doll?
And Jewish Design – especially in the garment industry?
What no Marc Jacobs, no Ralph Lauren, no Calvin Klein, no Hinda Miller?
It’s almost no clothes!
Where would we be without Jews in Academia?
How many colleges would never have been built?
How much research not pursued?
How many scholarships denied?
And most importantly -How many questions not asked?
And how many doctors and scientists we would be missing!
When we experience academia the intellectual and questioning mind nurtured by the Jewish culture is integral to our experience.
And what about laughter?
Where would we be without Jewish Wit?
Where would we be without the slapstick fun of the Three Stooges, gone more sophisticated with Mel Brooks, or the story telling humor of Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld?
Jon Stewart, Ben Stiller- look at the range!
What about the simultaneously raucous and sensitive Bette Midler, the hilarious Gilda Radner and irritatingly funny intellectual Woody Allen?
Our TV shows would lose essential crazy humor. Our movies their originality – no Steven Spielberg- please no!
Our comedy nights would pale, our ability to laugh at our selves, fall over ourselves and see the absurd and carry on would be less.
So I say we should count our blessings today – our Jewish blessings.
And I will start my counting with a bagel and cream cheese!
As my friend says
Be Beautiful, Live Beautiful, Feel Beautiful