Eight splendid points of light


I am reminded at Hanukkah of the importance of light. Each night we add another candle to the hanukkiah, and it glows more brightly, whether you place it in your window or on a table in your home.

This is the darkest time in our calendar. Yes, it’s still fall, but it sure seems like winter is here. Days are near the shortest of the year – Dec. 21 marks the least amount of daylight. A little light from the glow of the Hanukkah candles is a welcome sight. 

Although this holiday is a celebration of freedom, perseverance and miracles, light is an essential component. The true miracle is that the oil kept the light burning for eight nights.

The light of Hanukkah also imbues the world with the hope of redemption, when light of hope and prosperity will triumph over the darkness of negativity.

I have to admit that I really love Hanukkah. It may not be the most significant of holidays in the Jewish calendar, but it certainly offers a little light fun during the days that seem to go dark too early.

Though my children are grown and scattered, our family still gathers at least once during Hanukkah for latkes (extra crispy) with homemade applesauce and candle-lighting. We still exchange thoughtful gifts. And although everyone has his and her own menorahs, we light my great-grandmother’s menorah, which is in need of a small repair and looks like it might fall apart at any moment (it’s always on a tray, just in case). We have three hanukkiot, but that’s the favorite.

It is really all about the light.

So, in the midst of the darkness of winter, when things in nature – in our part of the world – are dormant and seem dead or, at best, asleep, the lights of Hanukkah serve as a spark of life. They dispel the darkness, if even for a short time, and remind us that the return of the light is close at hand.

In this season of light, it is fitting to listen to all the tributes to the late President George H.W. Bush. Remember, he is famous for “a thousand points of light,” which was his call for increased volunteerism. In fact, he founded an international nonprofit called Points of Light in an effort to engage more people in voluntary service. Volunteers were referred to as “points of light” in their communities.

We have many opportunities to volunteer in our community. As you consider what is a meaningful way to celebrate each night of light, perhaps a project to bring light to others in your community might be a welcome break from what you are accustomed to doing. After all, that’s how new traditions are born.

Speaking of new traditions, in a few weeks, The Voice will publish its last biweekly newspaper. Then, on Jan. 11, our monthly paper, with a refreshed look and a new name, will hit the streets. We are looking forward to bringing the news to you in print each month. And beginning in mid-February, an electronic newsletter will be showing up in your inbox monthly. Don’t forget to sign up for it at jvhri.org/register.html.

Let us know your thoughts on the new format. We are always pleased to hear your comments and ideas, whether via email (editor@jewishallianceri.org) or regular mail (The Jewish Voice, 401 Elmgrove Ave., Providence, RI 02906).