Friday, December 7, 2018 /29 Kislev, 5779
Tonight, we light our sixth candle of Hanukkah. We are 75% of the way to fullness of all our lights. The full menorah, with every candle aglow, is a wonderful and beautiful spectacle each year…
But, just think – the late President George H.W. Bush dared us to imagine 1000 points of light.
Admittedly, his inspiration was misunderstood, and even maligned, back in the day. Yet, today, it is a shining example of inspired leadership, challenging our nation to be a light to the nations of the world, just as our prophet challenged our people to be “or lagoyim” a light to the peoples of the world.
Perhaps it is fitting and noble that we memorialize 41 during these days and nights of Hanukkah…
Our festival recounts the struggle for religious freedom – for total inclusiveness of those who are marginalized in the vast world. So President Bush, in advocating for, and signing into law, the Americans With Disabilities Act, opening doors which had previously been closed, and transforming America, and even our synagogue.
Our festival challenges us to meet difficulties with graciousness, attacks with light and music. So President Bush, who faced his phalanx of opposition, and always did so with civility and decency, with the will to bring out the best in others, whether one agreed or disagreed with his policies. He never wavered in his devotion to human dignity.
And, our festival brings joy and frivolity to Jewish homes, with latkes, dreidles, songs and stories. So President Bush, who was a trickster, a jokester and consistently smiling. His love of family abided all circumstances, and was the true hallmark of his being.
Perhaps, there is no good time to mourn a great leader. But, if there was, then for President Bush, how magnificent that we extend to him the meaning and glory of this Festival of Lights. For us, we look forward to our eighth candle and seeing all of our lights aglow. For 41, eight wasn’t enough. How about a 1000?
Rabbi Doug Kohn