We light the second candle of Hanukkah at a local senior independent living community with our elders, who were the pillar of their community, who built schools and synagogues, fed the hungry, clothed the needy, and practiced the mitzvah of Tzedakah.
These women and men are a community of immigrants, Holocaust survivors, American born citizens who served their country and promoted freedom and justice. They are a source of strength in our life. They are people of vision, compassion, courage and hope and the light that makes America live up to its promise.
Among them in the room is Eva Abrams, a Holocaust survivor who speaks at schools about the Holocaust and about things that still need our attention, prejudice and hatred. She teaches compassion and her connection with students of all ages shines in classrooms as they surround her at the end of her talk, and tell her they love her and want to take pictures with her (selfies included). And with us tonight is Gladys Gary, a sisterhood leader who fought for the inclusion of women in synagogue rituals and created an egalitarian synagogue community. And all the rest of the elders whom I don’t know personally, but it doesn’t really matter because we follow folksinger Bonnie Abrams in Hanukkah songs in English, Hebrew and Yiddish and we pile on the joy of just being there together in community on the second night of Hanukkah.
On the second night of Hanukkah we, the guests are surrounded by the light of these women’s and men’s lives. As always, when we come to celebrate with them they thank us, tell us they love us and we thank them and tell them that we so love them. And yes, they just rocked the room on the second night of Hanukkah.