By Barry Shrage, President of CJP
Chanukah reminds us every year that light can banish darkness and that even in difficult times, it is our obligation to bring light into the world. I can't imagine a moment in recent years when we've needed the light of Chanukah more. The world seems covered in chaos and darkness. But the Jewish people entered history to bring light and justice and meaning and spiritual beauty into the world, and Chanukah, this year and every year, represents the possibility of renewal and redemption.
What I love about Jews is that we’ve always understood how important it is to celebrate our past and look to the future with hope. Chaim Kaplan, chronicler of the Warsaw Ghetto, described how in December 1940, “Chanukah parties were held in nearly every courtyard, even in rooms which face the street; the blinds were drawn, and that was sufficient.”
If even then, if even in the very heart of darkness, how much more so now!
The Talmud tells us to light candles on Chanukah and to place them in the window, so the Chanukah miracle is noticed and celebrated, not just by Jews, but by the broader community. If you light them in a place where only you and your family can see them, you’ve missed the point. The Rabbis of the Talmud called it pirsum ha-nes, making the Chanukah miracle public.
This year, CJP is partnering with New Center for Arts & Culture on a wonderful new project that goes to the very heart of this mitzvah, with 8 Nights, 8 Windows, Boston’s first-ever Jewish seasonal public art project, featuring eight interactive Chanukah art installations in windows all around Boston. What a meaningful way this is to bring light into our community and our world.
Sites include the Roche Bros. supermarket in Downtown Crossing, the Milk Street Café in the Financial District, Boomerangs in the South End and more (you’ll find the whole schedule here). And for one special night, December 9, the entire Museum of Fine Arts will be a celebration site, with music, art activities, gallery talks and an amazing giant menorah.
I’m sure you will enjoy 8 Nights, 8 Windows—maybe on just one night, maybe every night; in your own neighborhood, on your way home from work, or maybe you’ll make a special trip into town to be part of this beautiful Chanukah experience.
What I love about 8 Nights, 8 Windows (and I think our Rabbis would have liked it as well) is that it speaks to the Jewish commitments that the Maccabees fought to preserve and at the same time, it reflects the kind of community we are: A community that is loyal to Jewish tradition but finds new ways to express its spirit; a caring and responsive community that evolves and experiments; a community that refuses to despair, that illuminates the world and brings together people of all kinds in a way that is both deeply Jewish and wonderfully innovative. To me, that’s a miracle well worth celebrating.
Best wishes to you for a Chanukah filled with light and meaning and joy.
About the Author
A passionate advocate for Jews in Greater Boston and around the world, CJP President Barry Shrage has worked tirelessly to create an inclusive community and drive positive change.