As we prepare to light the first candle tonight, we remember the strength of our people and the miracles that are integral parts of our heritage. The Macabees victory has been summed up in a wonderful verse from the prophet Zechariah: “Not by might nor by strength but by my spirit says the Lord.” As Rabbi Sacks says, “The Maccabees had neither might nor strength, neither weapons nor numbers. But they had a double portion of the Jewish spirit that longs for freedom and is prepared to fight for it.” When looking at the history of our people, and recounting the tremendous list of improbable victories and triumphs, we often are brought back to the strength of the Jewish spirit. The Macabees were not physically stronger, nor were they bigger in size or number, but they had the inner strength to conquer their adversaries. Strengthening and nurturing the Jewish spirit is what has been the key to the survival of the Jewish people. What is our role as educators in defining, molding and building the Jewish spirit? The strength of the Jewish spirit starts with Jewish children. By teaching our students Jewish values, by living them, and by building meaningful experiences for Jewish children in a progressive 21st century learning environment, our students have the opportunity to grow, reflect, to impact and to effect change both within and beyond the walls of Akiva. As educators we strengthen our students, but we too feel strengthened knowing we have a hand in influencing the leaders of the future. Nurturing our students’ spirit is both a privilege and a responsibility that we recognize as an essential ingredient to the special magic that happens every day here at Akiva. This Chanukah, as I light the Chanukiah and pause to feel the warmth that emanates from the light, I will remember the strength of our ancestors that led to the commemoration of this day. I will also reflect on all the sources of strength glowing from within our very own Akiva community; our teachers, our parents, our lay leaders and, of course, our students, who come together every day to learn, to teach, to inspire and to be inspired in a beautiful mosaic of Jewish spirit.
Chag Urim Sameach,