The Message of Chanukah

by Arliene Botnick, November 28, 2016

What do we say to the Children? Our kids may not be fully aware of the repercussions following the election in the US recently, but they are aware of some very nasty fall out.

It seems now that bullying is acceptable; “dissing” is acceptable; intolerance, racism, homophobia have all been given the stamp of approval. It appears that you can say what you want, denigrate and humiliate others with impunity.

Our children may not be politically savvy, but they have ears – they can hear; they have eyes- they can read.

Suddenly a minority child sits in a classroom believing that he/she is now labelled an enemy. Children of colour see their rights eroded. Our care for the environment has been torn apart and women – well… back to the kitchen!

I can’t and won’t over emphasize and exaggerate the situation, but our kids are confused. I’ve heard words like “will my family be thrown out of the USA?” Even in Canada, we are reading about an increase in anti-Semitic events. Even though some believed that only “the others” were considered outsiders, we must never forget that we too have been “the others”, “the foreigners.”

Pastor Niemoller, after surviving a concentration camp interment in the Second World War, wrote that “First they came for the Social Democrats and I was not a Social Democrat so I didn’t speak up. Then they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I didn’t speak up. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I didn’t speak up. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up.”

Let us be very wary of the culture of the bully. Let us comfort our children by showing we know how to respect all people and how to be proud of who we are. Let us remember as Jews that silence and indifference are the worst enemies. Let us teach our children that we will not allow bullies to harm them.

Chanukah celebrates our victory over the Selucids – we survived. All people have that right!
-Chag Sameach

Filed under: Educator's Message

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