Pandemic Hanukkah

Dark days, as if the sky,
swollen with grey clouds
forgot how to smile

The earth, laden with our collective grief
somehow seems to keep turning
as daily we wait to see who is next
to fall ill, perhaps even to die

We try to make routines
knowing that none of this is normal
but finding a new rhythm
so that we may persevere

Even in the ghettos of Poland and Germany
our ancestors lit menorahs and put them in the windows for the lights of Hanukkah
to kindle memories of more joyous times
An act of defiance, of hope

We are told that our people must hold both celebration and grief simultaneously
What special skill does it require
to do so in days as dim as these?
How do we confront our own fears?
Who are we to tune out the suffering
of so many?

But the world goes round
babies are born every day
there are children to feed
and elders to care for
there are jobs to do and hands to hold
(if we are lucky)
there are dogs to walk and dinners to cook
planes continue to fly overhead
the sun rises and sets each day
even as they blend one into the next

And yes, there are stories
we continue to pass down
It doesn’t even matter if the miracles are true
What matters is what they stand for
and why we keep telling the same ones
each year

So tonight, my menorah will go in the window
It will stand with lights twinkling
to remind me that we are still here
To remind the world that we are still here

That in spite of everything
We keep standing for something

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