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Rabbi Anchelle Perl Speech at the Public Menorah Lighting for Nassau County

Happy Chanukah!

Welcome to the grand menorah lighting ceremony here in Eisenhower Park, East Meadow Long Island NY . How beautiful! How American - that we have the freedom to celebrate and enjoy our festival of Chanukah publicly and proudly.

Chanukah is about giving thanks to Al-Mighty G‑d for His wonders and miracles. Today, we offer heartfelt thanks to the Creator for the freedom of religious practice that our wonderful country provides.

 This is not unlike the freedom won by the Macabees at the time of Chanukah. And as we celebrate together as a community, we share this message with Jew and Gentile alike.

 In the words of the visionaries who established this blessed republic: we are one nation, under G‑d, with freedom and liberty for all. The founders understood that the only way to realize freedom and equality is through the recognition of the Great Creator who endows each of us with the gift of life.

 Each of us is a part of this partnership with G‑d – a partnership which began at the dawn of history, with the goal to make the world a home for G‑d. a place of justice, compassion, human dignity and the sanctity of life. These are hardly religious ideals. These are ideals for life.

 The Chanukah candles symbolize this partnership. They represent the light of goodness & G‑dliness that warms our hearts and illuminates our lives even during these trying times.

 They emphasize our common bond with each other, our fellow Jews, our fellow Americans, and indeed the entire family of humanity; we are all one – bound together with the common gift of life; endowed to each of us by the One Creator of life; who entrusted us all with the common purpose:

 When the Maccabees came into the desecrated Holy Temple they could not find any pure oil for the menorah. All the oil had been defiled by the Greeks. Miraculously, they found one small jug of pure, holy, undefiled oil, enough to illuminate the temple for one night. A miracle took place. The tiny jug of oil lasted for 8 nights.

 Friends, in the teachings of kaballah it elaborates how every one of us is a candle. Every one of us has a divine soul within us that shines brightly. At times we might feel uninspired spiritually. That our oil has been defiled. We might feel that we’ve become too materialized, that we’ve lost our sensitivity to the spiritual, in our daily experience.

 Says Chanukah: Within every one of us there is a small jug of pure, holy oil. Our neshomo, our G‑dly soul, the spark within us. The part of us that feels warm inside every time we do a mitzvah a good deed. The part deep inside of us that gets upset each time we hear of a tragedy. The part of us that brings tears to our eyes when we see a Chanukah menorah or when we say yiskor. That jug of pure, holy oil is our essence, it’s who we are, and it’s undefileable.

 And although it may be small in quantity, it is a miraculous little jug, which can light up our lives and brighten up our daily experience with Jewishness and spirituality. Friends, let’s make a miracle tonight! As we share the warmth and light of Chanukah with one another, and as we each kindle our own menorahs in our homes this evening, let us be inspired to add more mitzvahs & Torah study to our lives, allowing that inner spark, that tiny jug of pure oil, to light up our inner menorahs, to shine and illuminate our lives with G‑dliness and goodness. May we merit the revelation of the righteous moshiach speedily in our days, a time when goodness & holiness will prevail.