I know that I am not alone in feeling like these past few years have tested me more than I thought I was capable of handling. And I know I am not alone in that feeling because we have all experienced at least some darkness. Whether it was our health or the health of someone we love and care about; a job loss or stress in trying to pivot and work from home; the loss of connection and experiences that we had hoped and planned for; the worry and pain we have felt at the sight of racial injustice and anti-Semitism; and I’m not even going to get into the ugliness that the political climate has added to the mix.

It has not been an easy year. But I refuse to let the darkness of these past years take away the little bits of light and hope that have also come out of this year of turmoil. In fact, living through the global COVID pandemic these past few years, there have been many lessons I have learned including how important it is to choose joy and choose light when things seem so dark. These past few years, I have created my own light by practicing gratitude and surrounding myself with positivity instead.

And what better time than Hanukkah to begin bringing more light into our lives? As hard as it may seem to do sometimes, we have to remember to focus on the miracles and good just like the Maccabees did when fighting the mighty Greek army. Being as it was a war, lives were lost, the temple was destroyed, but we don’t focus on that part during the holiday. We focus on the miracle of triumph and the miracle that when it seemed that darkness was all that continued to surround them, the light shone for eight days and nights.

Joy is there, we just need to look for it harder sometimes. It starts with being grateful for the things that we do have. Focusing on the positivity. It may seem hard, but so is feeling stuck and dark and lost. The Maccabees could have given up. They could have succumbed to that darkness and said, “oh well, there isn’t enough oil.” But they rebuilt, and so can we. By reaching for joy and hope, we can make it through the darkness.

Now more than ever we need the light and miracles that Hanukkah represents. We need to feel the hope and the joy and as we light the Hanukkah menorah each night, I hope that you can take some of that light with you into your lives and community. Our world needs more of it. And if you are able to shine, shine brightly and proudly, to help light the way for others who may still be stuck in the darkness.

Wishing you a bright and meaningful holiday.

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