Chanukah: A Time for Reflection and Joy

Chanukah - Maccabee

In this time of conflict and challenge, with the current situation in Israel and the troubling rise in anti-Semitism, our hearts are heavy and hurting. It can be difficult to imagine celebrating a joyous holiday right now. Yet, it is even more important to celebrate this holiday, this story of triumph and faith, because Chanukah is a reminder of the power of unity, hope, and resilience. It reminds us that we have the power to change the world.

Chanukah, meaning “dedication,” commemorates two miracles: the small band of Maccabees’ unexpected triumph over the great Greek army and the menorah’s oil lasting eight days, enabling them to rededicate the Holy Temple. 

Thus, as a result of the miracle of the oil, the holiday of Chanukah includes a Chanukah menorah, called a “Chanukiah,” one with eight branches and a center stem. (Discover the full Chanukah story here).

Chanukah Today: Lighting Our Way

Chanukah menorah symbolizing the festival's themes of hope, resilience, and unity at Beber Camp.

In a world that sometimes feels shadowed by hatred and fear, Chanukah’s candles are beacons of love, courage, and wisdom. They inspire us to stand strong against adversity and to spread positivity, and they remind us that even a small light can illuminate the darkest times.

There are nine candles on a Chanukiah; eight represent each day that the oil lasted, but the ninth candle is the Shamash, the “helper” candle. We cannot light the candles without the Shamash. We cannot bring light into the darkness without help. We have to work together and help each other bring more light into the world. The miracles of Chanukah allow us to celebrate our faith again and to proclaim to others that we will remain Jewish and together, we will bring more light into this world. 

Beber Camp Jewish Values in Action

Of all the Jewish holidays, Chanukah’s themes resonate deeply with all of Beber Camp’s core Jewish values. 

  • Courage (Ometz Lev): Just like the Maccabees, we encourage stepping out of comfort zones, whether it’s in trying new activities at camp or standing up for one’s beliefs.
  • Leadership (Manhigut): The Maccabees’ leadership mirrors our camp’s focus on empowering young leaders to make hard decisions and demonstrate their leadership skills.
  • Sacred Community (Kehillah Kedosha): Rebuilding the Temple and leading the Israelites back to worship and their Jewish practices symbolizes our commitment to creating a nurturing and inclusive camp environment where we can explore our Jewish beliefs and practices.
  • Love of Israel (Ahavat Yisrael): The Maccabees’ fight to regain the Temple and the land was done because of their deep belief in Ahavat Yisrael, just as we bring this same connection to Israel at camp through our programs, Israeli staff and Israel trip.
  • Gratitude (Hakarat Hatov): The Maccabees demonstrated immense gratitude to G-d and the community as they rebuilt the Temple and returned to their Jewish practices. At Beber Camp, we teach and express gratitude through our community activities and reflections, much like the rededication of the Temple.

What a difference we can make if we dedicate ourselves to applying these values to our actions and seek to make the world a better place for everyone.

Fun and Meaningful Chanukah Activities for Families:

  1. Chanukah - GiftsLight Together: Engage in the candle lighting ritual with your family, using it as a time to discuss values and share stories. (Learn how to light the candles and say the blessings here).
  2. Musical Celebration: Enjoy Chanukah songs each night. From traditional tunes to modern hits and more modern hits
  3. Join Beber’s Virtual Celebration: Tune into Beber’s social media for special Chanukah candle-lighting guests.
  4. Community Engagement: Participate in local Chanukah events. Check out activities at your JCC, Chabad, or synagogue.
  5. Creative Cooking: Experiment with oil-based recipes, beyond latkes. Try donuts or explore these creative recipes.
  6. Be a Light to Others: Perform acts of kindness, like giving tzedakah, writing letters to Israeli soldiers, or supporting community initiatives to assist others in need.

So, this year, more than any other year, let’s proudly display our lit Chanukah Menorahs for the world to see, embodying the Beber Camp spirit of courage, leadership, community, love of Israel, and gratitude. Let’s commit to these values, bringing light into the world, just as the Maccabees did.

Chanukah - String Ornaments