President’s January 2021 Column

We Are All in this Together

It was (admittingly past) time for me to change the front door screen out and in with the storm window. While there, it was also a good opportunity to clean the entire door, along with the Mezuzah that adorns the frame. Why such a public display of one’s faith?

Then, I’m reminded by another outward sign as we are commanded to place the lit Hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah) in full window view. As if to say to my neighbors, I celebrate this, we are here, my people survived as light triumphs over winter’s darkness. Yet, another sign of public display of one’s… identity? I wonder. Regardless of what the sages tell us our “reason” is, why do we?

Who are we that we show others our religion? For you, is it pride or in defiance? Maybe it’s a tradition to you as it certainly is to me. We take such public display of Judaism as cute or novel. But imagine another time, another place when such identity could be unwelcome or outright dangerous. Thank G-d our rights and lives are so much safer than the majority of our shared history. We live in a time and for the most part around folks that accept Jews.

This public display of one’s religion seems to be a relevant topic especially in this season each year. I invite you to gaze upon that outward symbol of this identity and ask yourself what is this to you? Is it a public display of your private life, your inner feelings?

At this time when many around us may have illuminated trees for their children; we Jews must also find the light within to continue on and preserve this belief ascribed within Shema Israel in hope that our great-grandchildren may also have the opportunity to illuminate their Hanukkiah for all to see.

May your new year be happy and bright.

Robert Becker