I have no way of knowing how many of you may be on the email distribution list of American Friends of the Museum of the Jewish People in New York City. But I do hope your number is very many, because I hope you have received the message that follows from our Hanukkah just passed. However, if not: I’m passing it along to you now, even though the holiday is over and its candles have long since burned out, because it’s never too late to be reminded of those messages passed to us from one of the greatest of our Jewish thinkers and doers. So here it is: a Hanukkah one that is well worth saving for the Hanukkah that will come next year, and all the others to follow into eternity:
“At first one candle is lit, then another, and another, and another — and the darkness will vanish completely…. The light will burst first among the young, and then the others will join them: lovers of beauty, justice, truth, freedom and human progress. And when the candles will all be lit, they will rejoice, and wonder about the achievement they have reached.”
These are the prophetic words of Theodor Herzl. But maybe you wonder — as I do — if in his last sentence, that great father of Israel was meaning for his words of rejoicing and wonder to be coming from those who made — and would continue to make — great things happen there — (“a great miracle happened there”) — or were the candles themselves actually doing the rejoicing? No problem, however, with interpreting his clear-cut message to all Jews of his time — and of ALL times, including ours: “IF YOU WILL IT — IT IS NO DREAM.”
Please remember these final words until next Hanukkah. Then take them out of your memory bank, dust them off and say them again after yet another year has passed. But for now — for the holiday just concluded — it’s not too late to offer them with all our hopes that the year just begun for us will prove to be 12 months of peace and achievement, both personal and for all humanity. This is my holiday wish to you — all my much-beloved readers; please pass it on!
Harriet Gross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.