As I write this note, it is Chanukah in our house – the Festival of Light at this very dark time of the year. Chanukah is a celebration of the triumph of the oppressed over the oppressors. In that case, the Jews of old were prohibited from practicing their religion by governors who demanded that the Jews assimilate to their rulers’ Hellenist ways. A small band of Jews, led by a very brave man named Judah Maccabee, refused to give up their religious practices and culture. Outnumbered and against the odds, and perhaps with the help of God, the oppressed defeated the oppressors and took back their holy sites, purifying and rededicating their holy Temple.
Now, in our time, many in our midst are oppressed by people and systems more powerful than they. It is a dark time. In places far away and near to home, in North Carolina and around our country and world, immigrants and refugees, those without affordable homes, and those without access to jobs that pay a living wage or to nutritious food, struggle to maintain their way of life, their families’ culture, and their essential dignity. May these people find light, along with hope, strength, vision, determination, and miracles.
At this holiday time, when many people celebrate miracles and light, my hope is that we each, in our own ways, find the courage, wisdom and strength to help the oppressed triumph over the people and systems that oppress them.
I wish each of you, your colleagues, and those you seek to help or serve, good health, safety, peace and joy in this season and in the new year.