We are in a period of profound change, and with change can come uncertainty, unrest and fear. How fortunate we are to be Jewish! During this time of year, when the days are short and darkness comes early, we Jews do something simple, strong and sure: we come home each night and light candles on the family menorah. With this simple act, we illuminate the darkness by reflecting on a time in our history when good triumphed over evil.
Chanukah is a time to think of miracles – of one night’s worth of holy oil lasting eight. Eight nights is a miracle, but at BCHSJS, we experience miracles every Sunday morning, with students from eighth grade through senior year coming together to discover what it means to be Jewish.
This year, we are blessed to be 121 students strong. That’s 121 teenagers of all denominations (including non-affiliated) from throughout Bergen County discovering what it means to be Jewish. For many of these students, BCHSJS is the only place where they get to be with other Jewish teens, many of whom become friends for life.
Every night of Chanukah we use the Shamash candle in the center of the menorah to light the others, one by one. It is through our commitment to giving back, which we do by example and by providing numerous opportunities in the community, that our students themselves become Shamash candles, bringing small miracles to those who need them the most. At BCHSJS we take community service, or Tikkun Olam, very seriously. It is a core part of our curriculum and we have a host of activities students can participate in to help “repair the world.” The teachers and staff at BCHSJS are also like the Shamash, touching each one of our students with wisdom, knowledge and pride to help them go forth into the world as strong Jewish individuals.
So, as we light the candles on our menorahs, we offer this Chanukah blessing for miracles that happened centuries ago, and for miracles that we can make happen today:
Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.