Hanukkah is late this year on the regular calendar, and that means we are nearing the end of 2016. It’s been a big year for us; our sales are finally doing better, and as a result you have seen our paper grow considerably. Now, we have one more surprise for our readers: we have reached our goal of digitizing the Jewish Press, and all 2016 issues can be viewed online! You can get to the digital Press through our website at http://www.jewishomaha.org/jewish press/ or by going directly to www.issuu.com/jewishpress7. From there, you can choose which edition you want to view.
None of this would have been possible without the generous support from the Philip and Terri Schrager Supporting Foundation and Amy and Sandy Friedman. It never ceases to amaze me when community members step up and make these things possible, and I am proud to belong to a community where generosity is not an exception, but the norm. Taking care of each other is what really makes a community thrive. When donors and professionals share a dream, that dream quite often becomes reality.
Although Hanukkah is not a major holiday, it is nonetheless important to remember this time of year who we are. In a country divided, we have to stick together, as Jews, but also as human beings. That means we show chesed, kindness, empathy for those less fortunate. Focusing on candles, fried donuts and chocolate coins is not enough. We have to remind ourselves what it really means to fight for what kind of world we want to live in. We step up when others face discrimination and hate speech. We remember what it feels like to be a stranger in a strange land, and we follow the lead of Abraham and open our tents wide.
This year, we should all invite some of those strangers into our homes during our Hanukkah celebrations. We should show kindness, in our actions and in our speech. There has been too much hate in this country this year. During Hanukkah, we ask ourselves what the modern day equivalent is of the Greeks we are symbolically fighting. Maybe this year the answer is not the Christmas music blaring through the speakers at every retail store, the Christmas lights all over the city or the never-ending stream of Christmas wishes coming from members of the majority culture. Instead, it’s possible the answer lies within ourselves, and the challenge is in how will we act during these divisive times.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of Hanukkah. Of course, with kids still at home, those latkes and sufganyot are omnipresent, but it also gives us an opportunity to talk about the real meaning of the holiday. Being true to yourself, not letting the majority culture overwhelm you or marginalize you is a topic that comes up often. It can’t be avoided, living in Omaha, Nebraska.
Speaking of Nebraska, Emily Nohr recently reported in the Omaha World Herald that “Nebraska led the nation in resettling the most refugees per capita during the last year, according to newly released federal government data.”
Our state welcomed 1,441 refugess, many of whom joined family members already here. Focus on that number for a while: 1,441 lives, forever changed because our home is now their home. Refusing to welcome the stranger is what got Antiochus in trouble; welcoming that stranger with open arms is what the rest of us should be doing, Jew and non-Jew alike.
When we combine our generosity with our ability to welcome others, we have a winning combination. It’s how we make the world a better place, and isn’t that the real message of Hanukkah? That when we see a need, we answer that need and fight our hardest to make improvements, no matter how hopeless the situation may seem?
We want to wish all our readers a wonderful holiday. We hope you enjoy our new and improved Hanukkah issue (it will take you a little longer to read; it’s twice as big as last year’s!) and, most of all, we hope you enjoy each other.
Eric Dunning, President
Annette van de Kamp Wright, Editor