Jim’s Journal: Happy Chanukah

Last night, as you know, was the first night of Chanukah. When I was a kid, Chanukah was the best holiday – it was focused in our home, we had candles and dreidels and latkes and, of course, presents. Somewhere along the way, probably in a Hebrew School lesson that I was barely awake for, we learned the story of Chanukah and the meaning behind all of the symbolism.

As the years passed and we had children of our own, we tried to get them to understand the story or the meaning behind the holiday, but they were also focused on the latkes and the dreidels and, of course, the presents.

This year has been different. I’ve found myself thinking more about the story of Chanukah and relating it to what’s happening in our lives.

Chanukah is nowhere near the most important holiday on the Jewish calendar but for most of us it is one of the holidays we remember best. Yes, it’s a holiday of senses – we can smell the latkes, remember the images of the menorah burning and hear the prayers being chanted by our families. It’s the connection of our past with our present. When my family gathered around our menorah last night, I could clearly remember standing in my childhood home in much the same way, chanting the same Brachahs and eating the same food.

When we talk about AEPi we often talk about L’Dor V’Dor – from generation to generation. It’s the thing which binds us together — our current Brothers to our alumni to the Immortal Eleven. It’s like Chanukah. It brings us together. Even now, maybe especially now, when we are all apart, we need…we crave this togetherness and normalcy. We should all be so grateful that we have our Brothers throughout the world with us at this time. By the way, we’re trying to bring our Brothers together by lighting our menorah’s together. Check out our Instagram and Facebook feeds to join with Brothers and their families as they light candles.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the story of Chanukah in the context of 2020 and keep coming back to one word: resilience. Just as the Maccabees had to fight to overcome their struggles and oppressors, so must we this year. We need to keep fighting and looking for miracles.

I’m lucky. I hear about miracles every day. Last week, we wrote about our Brothers at the University of Connecticut who are raising money to support the Brother Max Schachter’s (South Florida, 1993) Foundation in memory of his son, Alex, who was killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida (you can read this story here).

And, this is just the latest example of Brothers helping our communities and each other. Now, more than ever, our Brothers are the key to making a difference.

This year has been a struggle for all of us. In the midst of all of the darkness that 2020 has brought around us, let’s focus on the miracles. Let’s focus on the light. Together, we’ll make it through the darkness and prosper.

From my family to yours, I hope you have a Happy Chanukah!