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Hanukkah: Light ‘Em Up, Lighten Up.

Hanukkah Candles 201412. Photo Credit: http://www.cija.caby Frank LoBuono

With all of the dark news we have received this year, Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is a welcome respite.

A holiday that traces its origins back to the Second Century, B.C., Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabean Jews rededicating the 2nd Temple after defeating their Greek-Syrian oppressors. Although there was only enough ritual olive to keep the ceremonial oil lamp, the Menorah, lit for a single day, it lasted eight days until more oil could be pressed and prepared.

In the 2nd century, it was considered a miracle that the temple didn’t go dark after one day. In the 21st century, we could use a different kind of miracle because lately, it seems so hard to find the light among all of the dark news we have received.

Fanaticism, cruelty, barbarity, and greed seem to be in ready supply while kindness, compassion, wisdom, and generosity are sorely lacking. Recently, the barbaric ISIS murdered, in the coldest of blood, over one hundred and thirty school children in Pakistan. How can we turn away? How can we not be ANGRY and OUTRAGED? Atrocities like this make it easier to be hard. Easier to say no. We feel that it makes us less vulnerable. We think that the only way to end cruelty is with inflicting even greater, more vicious atrocities on our enemies. But, does meeting this brutality with even more brutality really make us better or even safer? This question came clearly into focus with the Senate’s recent report of the use of torture by the US on those we consider enemies of the state.

ISIS needs to be stopped. Their level of cruelty has no place in the world. However, meeting their level of barbarity with an equal or greater amount of our own will solve nothing. We must find a way to finally stop the never ending cycle of violence. Remember, nothing happens in a vacuum. They hurt us. We hurt them even worse. And on and on. Therefore, to accomplish this, it will take a new way of thinking – one that transcends our baser needs for revenge and blood letting. We must step out of the darkness of hate and anger and into the light of acceptance and kindness. It brings to mind something a friend posted online in celebration of The Festival of Lights:

You cannot chase away darkness with a stick. You have to turn on the light. The way to eliminate darkness – to rid the world of ignorance, negativity, hatred and greed – is to kindle the lights of knowledge, generosity, hope, and love.

Chag Sameach

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Frank LoBuono has lived in Nyack for over 30 years writing and covering Rockland County in print, on TV and online. He works as a cameraman and an editor for a major TV News organization. You can read his blog at Talk-Frank.blogspot.com.

 Photo Credit: Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, cija.ca


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