Post submitted by Michael Toumayan, former HRC Senior Religion and Faith Program Manager

Hanukkah is a joyous eight-day Festival of Lights in the Hebrew calendar. It is a time when Jews celebrate the Jewish victory over a tyrant king and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.

But this year’s celebration will have additional significance for many who are both celebrating Hanukkah and grieving after the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh that took the lives of 11 worshippers.

Countless people were affected by this act of hate violence -- and it’s no surprise that for LGBTQ Jews, this horrific attack continues to remind of past tragedies.

For decades, LGBTQ people have been targeted by bias-motivated violence. According to the FBI, bias-motivated crimes based on race, religion, disability and gender all increased in the last year. Easy access to deadly weapons has only exacerbated this threat.

But it is during times like this when the teachable moments of Hanukkah are the most relevant. The holiday offers an opportunity for us to remind ourselves what Hanukkah has taught us through the centuries – resilience is a powerful force.

“Every person can be a small light,” said Hayley Miller, HRC’s Associate Director of Digital and Social. “And just as the small quantity of oil that fueled the miracle of light for eight nights, when we are our authentic selves, we can be a beacon of light that shines in this dark period of U.S. history.”

May this Hanukkah be filled with wonder and light!

Filed under: Religion & Faith, Community

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