As the holiday season nears, so too do the opportunities to see friends and family, to worship together and to celebrate our Jewish history and heritage. Chanukah observance may vary a little from house to house, but some things remain constant: commemorating the miracle of the oil, the smell and sizzle of latkes and sufganiyot, and the sounds of children playing dreidel. And, of course, the joy of unwrapping gifts.
For this week’s cover story, Susan Ingram reached out to a number of local residents to recount their fondest Chanukah memories. Gourmet Again’s Andy Hoffman talks about lighting the candles with his sons for the first time; a Pikesville High student remembers lighting a menorah she made as a little girl; and a Chabad rabbi recalls the warm reception he received when placing a large menorah in public view. These stories and more will surely get you into the holiday spirit, if you aren’t there already.
In addition to reflecting on the holiday, we also consider the reactions of the Jewish Diaspora to President Donald Trump’s pronouncement about Jerusalem. New staff reporter Andy Belt captures the community reaction starting on page 18. While those interviewed mostly agree in principle with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, some have serious concerns about what the move at this time means for the peace process, fearing more violence in the streets. However things shake out, an embassy move from Tel Aviv will certainly have broad implications, should it occur.
Eighty-three-year-old local painter Dr. Barry Lever is keeping tabs on Jerusalem in a different way, having recently painted his own vision of Middle East peace to serve as a symbol for the Jewish future. He took the iconic “Blue Marble” photograph of the Earth, added light emanating from the Middle East with an emphasis on Jerusalem and created what he calls “A Sacred Timeshare on the Blue Marble.” The idea is that the peace process focuses on the Temple Mount, and some kind of “holy timeshare” is created where different religious groups can share the site. It may sound radical, but Lever says thinking about the conflict in new ways could be a catalyst toward peace.
“Let’s make it as beautiful on Earth as it is from God’s view out in space. And it’s possible,” he tells the JT.
As we celebrate Chanukah in our peaceful homes this year, let’s hope that peace extends to Jerusalem and to Israel. Happy Chanukah!