There is nothing more innocent and joyful than the look on a child’s face when the Chanukah menorah is lit. Who doesn’t look forward to seeing the faces of their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, cousins and friends smiling in the glow of the menorah, as each candle is lit? It is the most beautiful sight in the world. Moments like this are so precious…so precious.
Sadly, tragically, the parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins and friends of 20 children in Newtown, CT will not be seeing those precious faces anymore – not at the lighting of a Chanukah menorah, not at the lighting of a Christmas tree, not anywhere, not ever. What a terrible loss; what a senseless, needless, horrible tragedy.
Tonight at Temple Sinai the lighting of our outdoor Temple menorah will be dedicated in memory of those who died today in Newtown. The lights of our outdoor menorah will stand for the light of the smiles of those children and the others who perished today. Please join us at 7:15 tonight for this brief 15 minute vigil in their memory. For the sake of the feelings of any children in attendance we will not focus on the details of the crime. But, if you are a parent use your discretion in deciding whether your children should attend.
In addition to the spirits of the Newtown victims the lights on our Chanukah menorah tonight will stand for the Spirit of the One who commands us, “Do not stand idly by while the blood of your neighbor is spilled.” (Lev. 19:16) During our Rosh Hashanah Morning service 3 months ago I challenged our congregation to act in response to the plague of gun violence around us. If your heart tells you that you cannot stand idly by anymore, please join us at an open meeting of our “Shalom Task Force” on Sunday, January 27th at 11:00 a.m. Let us not let any more children die without doing whatever we can to stop this plague of gun violence.
Tonight, whether you are here at Temple or at home, as you look at the faces of your children or grandchildren and other members of your family aglow in the light of the menorah say a little Shehecheyanu. For the moment you share together is indeed precious.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Chanukah Sameiach,
Rabbi Jordan Millstein