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Hanukkah Miracles and Mitzvot for Children

Hanukkah Miracles and Mitzvot for Children

This post originally appeared on the WRJ Blog.

At the moment of rededication, the Maccabees relit the ner tamid, the eternal flame in the Temple. The ner tamid symbolizes God’s constant presence with the entire Jewish people. Because it is perpetually lit, the ner tamid also signifies a hope that God’s presence will continue to dwell with us from generation to generation (BT Shabbat 22b). What could be a better symbol for our hopes for a sustainable future than the ner tamid? Thus, as we kindle the Hanukkah lights, we think about how we can nurture our children and pass along a better world to them.

Hanukkah has become a children’s holiday. We have parties and play games, eat sweets and give gifts. So it’s only natural that we consider children’s issues on Hanukkah. When we help ensure that all children have the loving families, safe homes, health care and education they deserve, we help fulfill our mandate to nurture God’s creation in each generation. A wide range of social justice issues—including environmental sustainability, economic justice, fair trade and poverty—affect children as much as they do everyone else in our world. When we work toward social justice in these areas, we also ensure the well-being of future generations. Our responsibility to ensure a sustainable future for our world has inspired the WRJ/JWI Hanukkah Project, a partnership between Women of Reform Judaism and Jewish Women International to bring basic comforts to some of the 15,000 children living in domestic violence shelters, a population we must not forget this holiday season.

For a mother fleeing an abusive relationship, the immediacy of danger can mean leaving home with only her children and the clothes on their backs. To help ease this traumatic upheaval, the National Library Initiative (NLI) transforms a basic shelter space into a library complete with furniture, hundreds of books, a computer and various comfort items, turning a frightening space into an educational resource and a safe haven for the youngest victims of domestic violence.

For each $18 contribution you make, we will send a Hanukkah card to any special person you would like to honor, letting them know that they have inspired a gift that’s helping children displaced by violence. Your contribution will help restock the shelves of libraries in shelters across the country.

Here’s how it works:

  • You choose a special person in your life and make an $18 donation to JWI in their honor.
  • WRJ and JWI send a beautiful card, which will arrive during Hanukkah, to each designated recipient, stating that a charitable contribution has been made in their honor.
  • JWI uses proceeds from the sale of these cards to send children’s books to domestic violence shelters for the holidays.
  • Your donation funds JWI’s work year-round, and a portion goes back to WRJ.

We celebrate Hanukkah by rededicating ourselves to Judaism and to the values at the center of our faith, including the work of tikkun olam, repairing the world. As we increase the lights of Hanukkah, adding a candle each night, so too might we, by our actions, bring new light to the world.