This Chanukah, Celebrate the Community We Aspire to Build

Posted by Rabbi Rob Symons and Melissa Hiller on November 28, 2018
Redefining neighbor from a geographic term to moral concept

On Sunday night, members of the Jewish community around the world will begin our annual celebration of Chanukah.  It is the time honored commemoration of the victory of the Maccabees in the 2nd century BCE over the Assyrian Greeks and their allies who wanted to create a homogeneous cultural and religious community in which diversity was neither tolerated nor celebrated.

In Pittsburgh 2018, many of us refuse to settle for such a homogeneous community.  We value the many cultures that make up our community.  We appreciate the varied religious traditions that our neighbors embrace.  We want to see the light that shines from shared values of pluralism and love of diversity that is the hallmark of a democratic and diverse community.  Our light is brighter because of our diversity!

The fight of the Maccabees in their day 2,200 years ago was a foretaste of the way that we embrace our First Amendment Rights:  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  • We will freely exercise our religion, celebrate our diversity and foundational unity on December 2 when we LIGHT! the first lights of the Chanukah menorah surrounded by song and celebration from many cultures. Learn more
  • We will exercise our right to peaceably assemble and speak with our elected representatives regarding THE IMPACT OF FOSSIL FUEL EXTRACTION ON OUR REGION on December 6. Learn more
  • We invite you to visit with our neighbors at the Sri Venkateswara Temple in Penn Hills on December 9 from 4-5:30 pm in an EXPRESSION OF SOLIDARITY AND BUILDING BRIDGES OF LOVE.

Each of these 3 events is a celebration of the community we aspire to build in Greater Pittsburgh: A community in which neighbor is a moral concept.

Friends, the fully lit Chanukah menorah casts away the darkness as each of the 9 candles flickers to its own choreography even as they work together to bring light.  Our community is filled with light because each of our assorted cultures and religions dances according to its own choreography in conjunction with each other… in a beautiful light filled ballet of life and hope.

With hopes for LIGHT!

View this year’s Chanukah events at the JCC

Related Posts


Last night I stood in appreciation of the lights of the fully lit chanukiyah, Chanukah menorah.  Having lit 2 chanukiyot in our fro...
read more

This Chanukah, Celebrate the Community We Aspire to Build

Redefining neighbor from a geographic term to moral concept On Sunday night, members of the Jewish community around the worl...
read more

Family Assistance Center and More Info

During this difficult, profoundly sad time, our thoughts are with the victims of the horrific event that ...
read more

"This day seals your destiny as American citizens - as patriots."

In advance of the exhibit, American Patriot: Photographs by Charlee Brodsky, Poetry by Jim Daniels, now on display in the ...
read more