Tonight begins Chanukah, a celebration of the strength of the Jewish people against overwhelming odds, a commitment to light amidst the darkness. These days, we yearn for a time when Chanukah was a distant metaphor from the annals of history. This year, I’m almost grateful for the escape that the American commercialized Chanukah offers our kids: something simple and sweet and loving amidst this deep darkness. But we dare not look away from this essential truth: that the Jewish people and Jewish history are filled with hearts broken open, filled with the simultaneous experience of both overpowering darkness and stubborn, persistent light. These past two months, we find ourselves here again, in this space at the edge of human experience. Against our will, almost as if we’ve been chosen.
The darkness we all know and dread. It is somehow the moments of light that expand our capacity to feel, to be human: the bnai mitzvah and weddings and britot and baby-namings in the days and weeks since Oct 7th, the moments when we pull ourselves out of such immense grief and summon our deepest spirit to authentically, fiercely- almost defiantly- celebrate our children and our communities and each other. The countless acts of love and compassion and generosity unfold every day in Israel and across the Jewish world.
The story of Chanukah teaches us to stand tall in who we are, but the light of the candles also beckons us to see and treat each other with warmth and compassion, to listen, to learn, to hope. It’s not easy for us as the Jewish people to balance these teachings, and humanity as a whole is clearly struggling with this as well. So, in that spirit, I want to lift up this ray of hope COP28, the UN Climate Conference happening now in Dubai—where there is plenty of cause for deep concern and intense criticism, but also an ambitious agreement amongst fossil fuel companies to quickly and dramatically reduce methane emissions.
Miracles don’t happen by themselves. We kindle these precious delicate lights as an act of faith, as an embodiment of hope, as a steadfast commitment. We will bring the light, no matter the darkness.
Over the next eight nights, we will share some of our brightest lights from Adamah—stories of hope and inspiration from across our network: leaders on campus and in high school, educators and farmers and climate action leaders, Israelis and Americans, Jews bringing love and light to our people and our planet. We hope these Chanukah stories light you up, inside and out, and we ask that you make a gift to support this holy work and enable us to continue our impact moving forward.
Together, we are the light.
Chief Executive Officer