By Adam Kirtley, interfaith chaplain

Sunday marks the beginning of Hanukkah, a holiday commemorating a time in the 2nd Century BCE, when the Maccabees, suffering religious persecution and heavily outnumbered, managed to reclaim the Temple from their oppressors. The Temple in shambles, the fighters found enough oil to light the Temple lantern for only one night. Miraculously, the lantern burned bright for eight full days, hence the eight-day Festival of Lights. 

While this time is undoubtedly marked by merriment within the Jewish community, this story also has something to say about resilience and the human capacity and compulsion to bring light into the dark places. Each night of Hanukkah another candle is lit.  More light means more is revealed. If we imagine ourselves now to be emerging from the dark days of the pandemic and into the light, what has this new and growing light allowed us to see at Whitman?

To a certain extent, it reveals a community that is deeply committed to one another — a community that desires to learn and grow with each other and in each other’s company. 

The light may also reveal that which needs our attention in order to be the kind of community we want to be. As we emerge from last year’s shadows, let us commit to the important work of centering identities too often marginalized, amplifying voices too often silenced, and illuminating places too often left in darkness.