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Friday, December 30, 2016


by Judith Lechner

More than 75 people from the new Hudson Valley chapter of the group Jewish Voice for Peace gathered at Wall and North streets in Uptown Kingston late Wednesday afternoon to demonstrate their solidarity with Muslims and other minority groups. —Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman, December 21, 2016

Candles challenge city lampposts, neon signs, passing headlights.
            A miraculous oil lit the lamps in the Temple.
Crowd’s voices gather strength, shout “Love, not hate, makes America great.”
            Hanukkah candle flames remind us of ancient battle against oppressors.
December night chills hands holding placards of painted candles that tell their story.
            Holy Temple in Jerusalem 170 B.C.
            Greek-Syrian despot Antioch  forbids Jewish worship.
            Sends soldiers to massacre resistors in Land of Israel.
            Invaders erect altar to Zeus defiling the Temple.
            Long struggle led by Judah Maccabee wins back the holy site.
            Only enough oil to purify the Temple for one day.
            A miracle—oil burns for eight days.

Hanukkah is the memory of the rededication of the Temple.
            Purification celebrated by lighting eight candles one a day.
We dedicate ourselves to fighting hate in the temple within.
            Shine light on the persecution of Muslims and Blacks. 
We form a human menorah to display our unity in diversity.
            Lights spell out our message of brotherhood and justice.
Each candle helps illuminate inner darkness, clear hatred from clouded eyes.
             The message of Hanukkah --“a miracle can happen here.”

Judith Lechner—poet, short story and essay writer—has also written 24 nonfiction books for school libraries. Her poetry book The Moon Sings Back appeared in 2011. She is a member of the Goat Hill Poets, a performance group and has won the Green Heron Poetry Prize and Tattoo Haiku contest.