On Sunday evening friends and neighbors gathered across from Village Hall to light the menorah to begin the celebration of Hanukkah. Moshe Schwartzburg gave a history lesson of the long and difficult path of the Jewish people that led to this miracle. Hanukkah represents the overcoming of enslavement and the consecrating of a temple after it had been desecrated.
In Moshe’s description of historic events he spoke of the search for the Land of Milk and Honey. This is an age-old biblical description of a place that represented a found paradise – a home. It represents the real struggle of a nation and a faith. It also represents the challenge we all feel as we search for our place whether it’s one that’s physical like our Warwick Valley or spiritual such as a meaningful belief. It’s also finding family and community and often for all the yearning for the “right place” it’s right under our nose. The trick is to recognize it, to see what is good and to embrace those things that are important- paradise on earth is not so much an actual place as it is a state of being, doing and caring.
On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah the menorah is lit to symbolize the overcoming of oppression, to create light where there is darkness. A servant candle, a “shammash” is used to light the candle for each night. It is a meaningful celebration that resonates at this time of year. Let’s take the meaning of this miracle and use it as a direction and inspiration. Let us rejoice in our families and community and let us take great pleasure in the beauty that surrounds us for surely this is the Land of Milk and Honey.
It is acts of kindness, done in the quite folds of daily life that should be our “shammash.” No matter what your faith or belief, no matter where you started or where you landed the greatest lesson is that we are blessed and powerful agents of light and goodness.
To all our Jewish friends and neighbors, on behalf of the Village Board, Village staff and Department of Public Works, I wish you a happy and joyful Hanukkah. Shalom.
The above column, written by Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard, has been published in the Dec. 5 issue of the Warwick Valley Dispatch.