Chanukah, the festival of lights and miracles, was celebrated on Sunday 6 December at Temple Israel Wynberg.
It was a joyous evening, filled with food (obviously), singing and lights. Over 250 people joined us to mark the beginning of this Festival of Miracles and Light. We were privileged to have visiting Cantor Zoe Jacobs with us all the way from London. She opened the evening with our community musicians by leading us in song. With the celebratory mood established, Rabbis Matitiani and Alexander led the whole kehilla – men, women and children – in lighting the Chanukah candles. After lighting, we enjoyed a wonderful meal under the setting sun, which obviously wouldn’t be complete without latkes and doughnuts. And as if all of this was not enough, we ended off the evening with a wonderful concert by Aron Turest-Swartz and his band. With the generous support of the Schustermann foundation, they ignited the night with a dazzling and inspiring set which had everybody on their feet in a standing ovation. Our Chanukah event brought over 250 people together. It was a wonderful reminder of the strength and passion of the Cape Town Progressive Community. It was also a powerful reminder of how much we need the light that Chanukah brings. The past year has been a year of violence, terrorism, racism, xenophobia, grief and loss. And yet this is nothing new. The Maccabees, the heroes of the story of Chanukah, lived through all of these injustices at the time that the temple was desecrated. When the temple was rededicated, there was only enough oil to burn for one day. Miraculously, it lasted for eight days. That is, of course, why we celebrate eight nights of Chanukah. After all the darkness that had befallen the Jews, the miracle of the oil gave them enough light to last eight days, enough light to rededicate the temple, enough light to rebuild their lives. In these times of darkness, we too need a miracle to help us transform the darkness from the past year into light. Let’s pray that the lights we kindled on Chanukah will not last for only eight days, but that they will illuminate the world long enough for all the darkness we have witnessed to disappear for good.