Growing up, one of my favorite singing groups was Peter, Paul, and Mary. Their harmonies were beautiful, but even more poignant were the words of their songs. They were activists in the truest, peaceful sense of the word. They wanted a better world – a world of light not darkness. And they spoke about it and wrote about it and sang about it and lived it. And maybe, just maybe, they inspired people to do the same and to work to make the world a better place.
At the recent URJ Biennial in Boston, I had the privilege of hearing over 100 cantors sing “Don’t let the light go out, it’s lasted for so many years. Don’t let the light go out, let it shine through our hope and our tears,” from one of my favorite Peter, Paul, and Mary songs – Light One Candle. It brought chills to hear them sing it so passionately and so beautifully. And it made me think about the dark times that we are experiencing in our world.
One of the themes that rang throughout Biennial was that in times of darkness, we as Jews, have always sought to bring the light. In a world where violence rings out and people lose their lives, where rhetoric is angry and disrespectful, where we no longer seem to care for one another and watch out for each other, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and like we cannot change it, that the darkness will just get darker.
But, as Jews, we do not see the world that way. After lighting the last candles of my hanukkiah last night, and bidding farewell to another Chanukah, it profoundly struck me that we need to keep the light going now more than ever. We need to work to better this world for ourselves, and for the generations to come. I don’t know about you, but this is not the world I want for my daughter and I suspect you feel the same. So I will keep trying to bring the light, and I ask that we all do the same. And I think that we do that through love.
Olam chesed yibaneh!
I will build this world from love
And you must build this world from love
And if we build this world from love
Then G-d will build this world from love