Hanukkah Provides Opportunity to Focus on Light at End of Dark Year

CEO Message, Shalom Austin, The Jewish Outlook

Nov 24, 2020

We have reached the end of 2020 and to say the least, it has been a challenging year. As I write this column, there has been another significant COVID-19 surge in our nation, and new restrictions seem inevitable to help mitigate the damage of the outbreak.

Despite all the challenging news we receive on a daily basis, it’s important that we continue to find the light that exists in the world and share it with our loved ones, friends and fellow human beings. With the potential approval of one or more vaccines and effective early intervention therapeutic drugs on the horizon, there is light at the end of this long tunnel, even if it is still several months away.

From the onset of this pandemic, we have repeatedly come together to share light with one another. As we approach Hanukkah, we will once again come together as a community. Generously supported by Mary and Burt Kunik and Family, our community virtual candle lighting will highlight various institutions and populations that make up the greater Austin Jewish landscape, showcasing a different segment each night. 

Clergy and spiritual leaders representing 10 synagogues will lead our next Kulanu (community concert) with beautiful Hanukkah melodies and music. Diverse populations and organizations, including seniors, volunteers, young families, day school students and faculty, youth group leaders, young adults and our community’s incredible lay leadership will lead us on the remaining evenings as we will fill our households with increasing light as the holiday continues.

I want to thank all of our participating community members and institutions for making this a meaningful and special celebration. I especially want to express gratitude to the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Jewish Culture and Education leadership team, including Rachel Stern, chief learning and engagement officer and Alachua Nazarenko, education and engagement director.

While we are on the topic of gratitude, I want to thank every community member who supported our COVID-19 Community Response Fund. As you will read, your support has provided assistance to those most vulnerable in the community and has ensured that our institutions remain strong through this crisis, shining tremendous light during a challenging time.

Wishing everyone a Hanukkah Urim Sameach, a happy and meaningful Hanukkah filled with light.

Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus

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