Chanukah began last week. A friend of mine shared his Chanukah wish with me: “Wishing the entire House of Israel Chag Hanukah Samach! May the lights of Chanukah shine thru the darkness of the world and make the world a better place.”
Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights and Feast of Dedication, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
I am not Jewish. I am Catholic. Yet the story of Chanukah rings true no matter your faith or spirituality. The story tells of the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy when the Temple was liberated and rededicated. The festival of Chanukah was instituted to celebrate this event. The Temple had to be cleansed, a new altar built and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the “kohen gadol” (high priest) was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night. The story goes that only one flask was found with only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah. An eight-day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle.
The reason for the Chanukah lights is not for the “lighting of the house within” but rather for the “illumination of the house without,” so that passersby should see it and be reminded of the holiday’s miracle.
When my friend shared his Chanukah wish that “the lights of Chanukah shine thru the darkness of the world and make the world a better place” I could not think of a better wish for our leaders in the House of Representatives. As the debate over how to best reform our immigration laws continues to drive a political divide in our country, I wish that the lights of Chanukah shine through this darkness to give our leadership the courage to act and make immigration reform the miracle that is so badly needed.
Congress took a break for the Thanksgiving holiday and reconvenes today for the last official eight days of the first session of our 113th Congress. During these remaining days the House has the opportunity to fix our badly broken and highly dysfunctional immigration system; to light a candle for wisdom, compassion, and understanding – to bring out of darkness the light of reform.
Congress understands it is a task that must be done. The Senate has sent the House a comprehensive bill that sets forth the framework upon which the House can act. The reluctance to tackle a whole bill can be broken down into three key components: (1) how to address the 11 million currently in our country, (2) how to safely and humanely secure our borders, and (3) how to modernize our current legal immigration process.
As the possibility of immigration reform remains viable this year, let the miracle of Chanukah shine a light on our Congress for last eight days of its first session. Let the miracle of “illumination of the house without” – Be the nightlight for the leadership in our House of Representatives to find the courage to act on immigration reform.