Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson introduced Rabbi Carmit Harari of the Shir Tikvah in Homewood and Rabbi Gidon Isaacs of Temple Beit Shalom in Munster as the candle lighters for the sixth night of Hanukkah in Flossmoor Park on Dec. 12.
“I really appreciate all you do throughout the year to bring folks together,” she said. “Both their actions and their words inspire me throughout the year.”
Harari and Isaacs each offered a few remarks before Isaacs lit the six candles. Harari noted that Hanukkah is known as the festival of lights.
“Light is such an important to have in these times of these literal darkness but also in times of challenge,” she said. “We know that the world is a dark place right now. We hope that as we gather together in community tonight we bring light and in so doing, we bring hope.
“We are especially grateful to be able to be together as one community. We know that in being together we draw strength from one another.”
Isaacs noted that the Hanukkah celebration has been politicized in some places, but he urged everyone to focus on the spiritual themes of the holiday.
“This is not a time where we need to be political but a time where can take inspiration and take a message for diversity and inclusion,” he said. “Hanukkah is about being who we are, to celebrate as Jews, to appreciate living in a free society where we can be proud and celebrate our Judaism.”
He concluded his remarks by citing the prophet Zechariah.
“‘Not by might, not by power, but by spirit’ shall we all live in peace,” he said. “Hopefully one day in our lives we can find peace. We can connect to each other and to a spirit that is greater than ourselves and recognize our common humanity.”
That comment served as a segue to a song led by the rabbis and sung by the crowd that included the words of Zechariah.
Then as Harari introduced the Hanukkah blessings, Isaacs used a remote device to bring light to the electic candles on the community menorah.
Later he quipped, “That little remote thing is not something they teach us in rabbinical school so I thought I did pretty well.”
Harari and Isaacs led the group in more songs, concluding with the whimsical children’s song, “Lots of Latkes,” a reference to the traditional potato dish associated with Hanukkah.