Hanukkah a Time to Spread Light By Rabbi Judy Chessin
On Hanukkah 1932, Rachel Posner, wife of Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner, took this iconic photo of the family Hanukkah menorah in the window of the family home across the street from a building displaying a Nazi flag.
On the back of the photograph, Rachel Posner wrote in German:
“Chanukah 5692 (1932)
‘Death to Judah’
So the flag says
‘Judah will live forever’
So the light answers.”
Dr. Akiva Posner was the last Rabbi of the community of Kiel, Germany. Rabbi Posner actively protested the growing power of the Nazi party. When tension and violence in the city intensified, the Jewish community encouraged the Rabbi and his family to flee to Israel to save their lives. The Posner family arrived in Israel in 1934, taking their famous menorah with them. Some eighty years later, Akiva and Rachel Posner’s descendants loaned this menorah to Yad VaShem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum, where it stands next to the iconic picture to this day.
Posner’s granddaughter explained: “Hanukkah is different from most home holidays because it is about putting the menorah in the window. It is a public statement about what you believe. With Passover, the mitzvah is to publicize the miracle to the next generation of your family. With Hanukkah, the mitzvah is to publicize the miracle to the outside world…. Instead of the light (of Hanukkah) coming from the outside world, which is what television is — ultimately dissolving everybody into their own rooms — the light comes from inside the family and illuminates the neighborhood.”
In a world where hatred and divisiveness are once again on the rise, it is meaningful that Temple Beth Or will once again publicize the miracle of Hanukkah in our congregational neighborhood. Years ago we had a large outside Hanukkiah, but it was damaged by the weather. Now we are blessed by a gift by Bill and Judie Kell who donated a brand new sturdy Hanukkah Menorah for our Temple grounds.
Please join us as we dedicate this new gift and thank the Kells on the Friday night of Hanukkah, December 15. Our special Hanukkah pre-neg at 6:30 will move to an outside dedication and kindling of our new menorah just prior to our Hanukkah Shabbat service at 7:00 p.m.
Among the many laws our Rabbis discussed about kindling the Hanukkah lamp is that one is not supposed to light our candles in private and then move them to the door or window. We are supposed to light them in the threshold. The blessing comes from willingly asserting our faith in public, not with raging fire but with a single quiet flame. Rabbi Akiva and Rachel Posner did so in the 1930’s. Let us remember them, as we do so 85 years later.
Rabbi Judy Chessin