Central Conference of American Rabbis

Seeks Chanukah’s Light at a Dark Time

Tuesday, December 7, 2015

In ancient days, the Maccabees and later the rabbis designated a festival that would bring light to dispel the darkness of winter’s shortest days. In our own day, Chanukah 5776 (2015) has arrived at an hour of our world’s deepest darkness. As the largest global organization of Jewish clergy, representing over 2000 Reform rabbis, we pray and we urge action that would bring light to our darkened world.

Violent religious extremists – most dangerously, those who have perverted Islam – threaten world peace; murder innocent men, women, and children; and displace countless refugees. Our prayer for peace is matched by a call to American and world leaders to confront this threat resolutely and sacrificially. We particularly call for the United States to join Canada and Europe in opening hearts and borders to rigorously vetted Syrian refugees.

Unchecked gun violence, abetted by the pervasive availability of guns in America, brings word of a new mass shooting nearly every day. We renew our insistence that the United States adopt safe gun technologies, shut down bad actors in the firearms market, and close the loopholes that permit too many Americans to purchase firearms and ammunition without background checks.

Racial injustice tears at the fabric of our nation. Police force and mass incarceration disproportionately destroy African American lives, families, and communities. All lives matter, but we must proclaim, “Black lives matter;” because for too many in America, they do not.

Climate injustice threatens the entire planet we inhabit, with disastrous consequences, especially for the poorest of the world’s poor. We fervently pray that commitments made by world leaders in Paris in recent days will translate into action that will reduce humanity’s carbon footprint and assuage the calamitous consequences of global climate change.

Women’s reproductive liberty faces greater threat in the United States today than at any time in over four decades. None should be surprised that lies spread about America’s largest and most respected provider of reproductive health services have inspired an unbalanced man to commit mass murder at a Planned Parenthood clinic. As always, we insist that all reproductive health services, including abortion care, be widely and affordably available to all Americans.

As we praise our Creator, Who worked wondrous miracles for our people at this season in ancient days, we pray that the Divine Source of blessing may grant light to every dark corner of our troubled world, to our people and to all people, at this and every season. Reform rabbis will never rest from our efforts, as God’s partners, to replace darkness with light.

Rabbi Denise L. Eger             Rabbi Steven A. Fox
President                              Chief Executive

Central Conference of American Rabbis