There is a well-known controversy recorded in the Talmud (BT Shabbat 21b) between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai regarding the proper way to publicize the miracles of Hanukkah. Shammai suggested that we begin the holiday by lighting eight candles on the first day, and gradually decrease the number every night, until we finally light only one candle on the last day. Hillel proposed just the opposite—that on the first day of Hanukkah we light one candle, and then gradually increase that number each of the eight days, until we mark the last day of the holiday with a hannukiah completely filled with lights. Hillel’s winning principle still serves as a reminder to every member of our Talmud Torah community that we become stronger in our Jewish presence, identity, and practice by consistently striving to engage in more ways to illuminate who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going!
Throughout this past week students, families, and faculty members found increasingly creative ways to connect with each other as we celebrated Hanukkah together, even in our separate, virtual spaces. Hanukkah gift bags (that included dreidels, gelt, candle-making kits, snacks, toys, TT branded pop-sockets, and family latke-making challenges) were assembled and delivered to each and every student by a cadre of parent volunteers. Virtual games of dreidel, the making of hannukiot and candles, and the sharing of the meaning and various customs of Hanukkah were all an important part of our holiday experiences. We even found ways to cook together, sing together, and build memory upon memory together, adding to the collective and growing “illumination” of our identity as a vital community of Jewish learners.
Just as the Maccabees were triumphant over strong external forces, we have proven to be an extremely resilient school community that continues to transform the external challenges of mandated social distancing into creative opportunities for personal and collective growth. We have accomplished this together by adding more and more illumination to the lives of our children, by providing them with the tools for intentional Jewish living. May we continue to increase the light in their lives each and every day!
Chag Urim Sameach – Happy Hanukkah!
Hazzan Jeremy Lipton,
Head of School