Together We Are the Light

By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
On Sunday evening, we will begin celebrating Chanukah by lighting the first candle in our menorahs. The origin of the Festival of Lights is the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem. As the Talmud tells us, there was only enough oil to keep the menorah lit for one day, yet the lights miraculously burned for eight nights.

In thinking about this story, I have found it a powerful metaphor for the vibrancy and strength of our Jewish community. At both ordinary times and in times of crisis, we pull together, take those leaps of action that Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel spoke of, and make an impact on community and the broader society.

At times, we may think that we’ve done all that we have the capacity to do, yet we find it within ourselves, as individuals and Jewish organizations, to dig a little deeper and do more for the greater good than we thought possible.

Our collective capacity to make a tangible difference has come to mind many times over the past year. Most recently, as a follow-up response to the tragedy in Pittsburgh, the Federation convened over 70 communal leaders to meet with each other and with law enforcement representatives to learn together how we can strengthen community security through the SAFE Washington program. It was inspiring to see so many people take an evening away from home on a holiday week to share thoughts, concerns, and helpful ideas on this critical issue.

Likewise, community members and organizational leaders have stepped up time and again — to advocate Jewish Puget Sound’s priorities to our elected representatives, deepen our connections with Israel, help young people quicken their Jewish journeys, assume leadership responsibilities, weave Jewish connections at the neighborhood level, and do the hard but necessary work of building a more cohesive community, so that collaboratively, we can serve in ways no one person or organization can do alone.

I know from personal experience that attending that extra meeting, taking that additional phone call, or volunteering for that new assignment can mean burning the midnight oil, but it’s worth it. We keep the oil burning because serving the needs of our community and repairing our world call to us and the Jewish values by which we live.

Thank you for everything that you do for our Jewish community. As we light our Chanukah candles, celebrating re-dedication, know that in many ways, large and small, you are spreading light that is brightening our world.

Chag Chanukah Sameach.

PS – If you have some Chanukah gelt and are looking to make a difference in the lives of our community’s young adults, consider making a gift to the Young Adult Israel Education Initiative, which the Federation is running in partnership with Hillel at the University of Washington. If we raise $25,000 by the December 31 deadline, it will be matched by a generous community member! We can’t do it without your help!