There is a particular mitzvah associated with Hanukkah, and that is placing our lit menorah somewhere that is visible to the street. (T. Bavli Shabbat 21b)
The idea behind this mitzvah is that we are confirming that we Jews are here, that we are proud to be part of our local community, and that we aim to bring light into the world. It’s a beautiful message for us to remember, and for the world to hear.
As the nights get darkest, amid a sea of Christmas, each year Temple Emanu-El has the honor (and the responsibility) of creating a ‘Hanukkah’ display at the Georgia Governor’s mansion. We show up in numbers, our children’s choir gives a concert (so cute) for the Governor and spouse and, with an inspired Hanukkah message, we present them gifts for kids who need them.
Our display changes year to year, always based on the ‘theme’ determined for all the holiday displays by the mansion staff. But always our Temple Emanu-El creation prominently affirms that we Jews are here in Georgia (and have been since it was a colony), that we are proud of being Jewish and proud to be part of this great state, and that we continue to bring light into every community in which we live.
The ‘street’ that receives the message of our menorah, brightly lit and illuminating, are the thousands of visitors to the Governor’s mansion each holiday season, from all over Georgia. Some of them will know Jews well, others will never have met a Jewish person.
The menorah does not light itself…it is up to us.
And in taking the lead for Jewish Georgia, right here in Atlanta, Temple Emanu-El becomes the menorah, bringing light into these long December nights.
I am proud of Temple Emanu-El.
This is what we were meant to do.
P.S.- To join us on Sunday, December 9th, at our Hanukkah ‘celebration and concert’ with Governor and Mrs. Deal, please click the HERE