We are all one vessel

A Hanukkah reminder.

Last night I sat in front of my menorah and wept.

I watched the twin flames as they burned. They were almost perfectly still in my silent apartment, and in that silence, it all came rushing forward; the grief that thousands of Palestinians are being indiscriminately killed every day in my name; the sorrow about feeling so far away from so many of my fellow Jews at a time when I crave community; the sadness that a holiday which always brought me so much joy was now choked by despair.

I felt guilty about how safe I was in that moment. How I was able to light candles in peace, without fear of my home being blown apart at any moment, next to the plant that is, against all odds, thriving, and a bunch of wedding cards standing on their edges that I’m too sentimental to put away. Sitting in a green director’s chair my husband took from his aunt’s old house, next to the couch I’d bought for my first apartment on my own, I felt fortunate and nauseated all at once. I had fire in my home by choice—and not because someone was trying to burn it down.

Every moment feels like a battle against itself: In one moment, I’m seeing images of hundreds of Jews led by a group of Rabbis in New York’s Columbus Circle Thursday night to light Hanukkah candles and demand a ceasefire in Gaza. And in the next, I’m scrolling Facebook and see a post from a former coworker that says “DO NOT WISH ME A HAPPY HANUKKAH IF …” followed by a list that includes, “YOU DEMANDED A CEASEFIRE,” and, “YOU THINK OCT. 7 WAS JUSTIFIED.” As if those things are equivalent. As if those of us calling for a ceasefire aren’t haunted every day by the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel and are calling for a ceasefire because slaughtering 17 times as many Palestinians is never going to bring the Jewish people lasting peace.

And as I wept, yet another thought crossed my mind: How I want all Jewish people to be safe, and in the past two months, I’ve been feeling as if many Jews don’t wish the same for me and for all the other Jews saying enough to this carnage. How the villains have become university presidents and students who support freedom for Palestine, and not the Israeli government—with material support from the US government—destroying lives, homes, families, entire histories, and erasing an entire people every day. 

I watched as the two flames glowed on my menorah, appearing to each stand on their own. Coexisting. But then my eyes traced down to see they were supported by the same structure. That they were merely two parts of the same vessel.

This Hanukkah, I hope you’ll remember that we are all one vessel. 

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