This week’s Torah portion is Vayeishev – and he dwelt…, begins by chronicling Jacob’s son Joseph. Joseph shares his dreams in which he envisions himself as the future leader of Jacob’s family with his brothers.

Beginning Sunday evening 28th November, across Redbridge, Essex, the UK and worldwide too, you will see some rather extravagant, well designed Candelabras with nine branches illuminated at major intersections, shopping malls and other well-trodden pavements.

The history dates back to the second century BCE, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who tried to force the people of Israel to accept Greek culture and beliefs instead of observing His commandments and the belief in the one Gd. Against all odds, a small band of faithful but poorly armed Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of Gd, by rekindling its Menorah – Candelabra.

Nevertheless, why the public display? There is a universal message here for all people in all times. The strength and future for any civilisation, broken down into communities, cultures and rich faiths is our youth & their early education.

The name Chanukah comes from the root of the Hebrew word “Chinuch” which means “education” & “inauguration.” 

Symbolically Chanukah serves as a model for all inaugurations, including the most significant inauguration of all—education, a child’s inauguration into life. The uncompromising insistence on purity and perfection which Chanukah represents, holds an important lesson regarding the essence of the educator’s task.

Compromise is anathema to education. To a mature tree, a gash here or a torn limb there is of little or no consequence. However, the smallest scratch in the seed, the slightest nick in the sapling, results in an irrevocable deformity, a flaw that over the years to come will deepen rather than erase.

Virtually every life is faced with demands for compromises—some tolerable, others not. The educator, who wishes to impart a set of values and priorities that will weather them all, must deliver, in word and example, a message of impeccable purity, free of even the slightest and most acceptable compromise.

Hence, the Chanukah lights are a symbol of hope, dispelling darkness in all its forms, and reminding us all that each light kindled – an additional candle each night- represents a soul that has been illuminated through an uncompromised and wholesome education. Emerging from the darkness of the Covid pandemic, this renewed light  brings with it  another glimmer of hope for the future, building a society uncompromising in its education, recognising the good that we can and do contribute to a modern world.

Chabad across Essex has nine Menorahs across the County. You and your family can join in one or more of any of the ceremonies taking place each night. Check our website for details and enjoy the best Chanukah ever right here in Essex. 

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah.