Bringing light into a dark and difficult time is exactly what Hanukkah is all about. Most of you know the story, following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 168 BCE, the Jewish people, led by Judah Maccabee, with an amazing amount of determination triumphed against the much more powerful Syrian army, among other miracles. Each year I use this time to think about the miracles in my life, and use the idea of prevailing over a huge obstacle as an opportunity to be the best person I can be.
Although Judaism has always been central to who I am, and I have worked in the Jewish community for over a dozen years, this year, I feel uniquely Jewish, like a true Maccabee. Just being a Jewish professional in the world at this moment feels like an act of bravery. Each night as we increase the light, by lighting one more candle, I hope that each of you can take a bit of comfort knowing that there are so many hard-working Jewish professionals and lay leaders who are stepping up as Maccabees during this incredibly challenging time. We are fighting for Jewish safety and survival every day.
When I began working for Hillel of Colorado nearly 5 months ago, I was overjoyed to join a small team of professionals here in Colorado working to build Jewish life for college students around the state. What made me even more excited was to join an international movement of Jewish professionals and students who lean on each other. Moreover, the idea of having a network from all over the world to learn and share ideas with was something I couldn’t wait for.
Having just arrived home from the most amazing conference, HIGA (Hillel International Global Assembly), our annual Hillel conference, I have a renewed energy that the mission of building Jewish community for our college students is the most important work that I can be doing. Our students count on us to make them feel safe on campus, joyful in their Judaism and to create a home and community for them to be a part of. By serving them, we will ensure that they will become the next generation of Jewish leaders. They are the next Maccabees. Luckily, I know I am not doing it alone! As the title of our Hanukkah campaign states, our college students need us “Now More Than Ever”. We will be illuminating their light this Hanukkah, and we hope that you join us with a gift of any size.