Reflection on the Last Night of Hanukkah

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We had planned to send a note tonight celebrating the last night of Hanukkah. We still want to do that. But as you may have heard, last night, as they said the blessings around the Hanukkah lights, 5 Hasidic Jews in New York were attacked in their home.

This was the ninth attack against American Jews this Hanukkah - that means there wasn't a single night of this holiday where we didn't face antisemitic violence. It feels almost inarticulable. How can we explain this? All this violence during one of our most joyous traditions - and at a time when so many of us are still reeling from the attacks in Pittsburgh, and Poway, and Halle, Germany.

But one thing Jewish Community Action can try to offer, besides our words of comfort and our solidarity - is our attempts at understanding. The attacks over this past week are different from the mass shootings that have taken place over the past several years. Rather than being the product of white nationalist terror, much of this violence has come from communities that, like ours, face daily oppressions. It’s an important reminder that Antisemitism is not simply a blind hatred of Jews - it plays a specific role here, in pointing to the Jews as the force controlling the economy. Poor people are told it's the Jews who are to blame for their poverty and oppression. Oppressed people are driven apart and pitted against each other. That's the whole point. It's so, so painful - and as we see, violent - when it works the way it's supposed to.

So - for our non-Jewish allies, if you would like to understand this, have a stronger analysis of the ways antisemitism targets Jews and limits our effectiveness in collectively addressing the real violence of capitalism, Jewish Community Action wants to work with you on that. Reach out.

You can reply to this email and we’ll get in touch about next steps. For you personally, for your community, or for your organization.

And to the Jewish community - our neighbors and family - a reminder that we are strong. We are here. And we are not going anywhere. It’s somewhat fitting, actually that we celebrate the last night of Hanukkah tonight. The night when the Hanukkiyah burns brightest. Tonight, we’ll put it in our windows. A symbol to our neighbors that we are all here, together, in solidarity, and strength, and love. That we will not be made to feel afraid and we will not cower.

We mark holidays in community with one another, and we must likewise continue our work for justice together.  Together with our congregations and neighbors, we must stand in deep and public solidarity, and not let the dark divide us. 

And as you light the final candle, we ask that you remember these names:

Yosef ben Perel

Shlomo ben Vittel

Naftali Tzvi ben Vittel

Naftula Tzvi Ben Gila

May their memory be a blessing.


Carin Mrotz

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