Ending a dark year with the Festival of Lights


Putting together the annual “Year in Review” article every December is like taking a short trip down memory lane. It’s always an interesting exercise to take a look back at a year, to think about where you have been and where you may be going, whether you do this at the end of the Hebrew calendar or the secular calendar. As editor of a Jewish paper, I have the opportunity to do both!

Last month, I wrote about all the things in my life that make me grateful. And my look back reinforced the notion that in the face of a very difficult year, we can still look forward with positivity.

Many print newspapers continued to struggle in 2020 as the pandemic forced some businesses to close, resulting in fewer advertisers. But you are holding this newspaper in your hands and reading it, aren’t you?

Folks who subscribed to the Boston Advocate and the Los Angeles Jewish Journal aren’t as lucky. Both papers suspended their print editions this year. The Advocate plans to return digitally, but so far hasn’t raised the funds to do so. The Jewish Journal chose to devote its resources to an upgraded, more robust online presence. The paper will return in print when its chief points of distribution – community synagogues – reopen. As members of the Jewish press, we wish them well.

We have not been without struggle here at Jewish Rhode Island. July saw our smallest paper in recent years, due to light news and advertising. But we turned it around with a robust High Holy Days edition in September and a strong Hanukkah edition, which you are now reading. While we no longer distribute the paper to local synagogues and businesses that have closed, we will again when they reopen. In the meantime, we really appreciate everyone’s support – advertisers and readers alike.

We hope we are bringing some light into our readers’ lives. At this time of year, as the days grow shorter and shorter, we all need more light. That’s just one of many reasons that Hanukkah is one of my favorite holidays. I’ve written about this in the past. Between the brightly burning candles and the family traditions, Hanukkah brightens the darkest days of the year.

And this year, with COVID-19 surging again, along with renewed calls for hunkering down in our homes, that light will be even more important: The hanukkiah in your window will be a reminder to everyone that miracles can happen.

Even if we’re celebrating at home with just members of our household, we can still fry those latkes, make those sufganiyot and taste the sweetness of family although we may not be able to reach out and touch each other.

For Thanksgiving, I made sure to mail my family’s traditional homemade turkey cookies to relatives who usually attend our dinner. In return, we received photos of each person’s loaded Thanksgiving plate, with the cookie beside the plate (except for the one family member who ate the cookie the minute he opened his box).

Perhaps I’ll do something similar for Hanukkah. I don’t think latkes will travel well, so it might have to be cookies this year.

Here at Jewish Rhode Island, we’d love to know how your family celebrates Hanukkah, especially this year, when we all have to get creative with our celebrations. Please send your stories and photos to editor@jewishallianceri.org or to Jewish Rhode Island, 401 Elmgrove Ave., Providence, RI 02906. You can post your stories online at JewishRhody.org. Follow the instructions to post your news.

We will be back Jan. 8. See you next year!