A Festival of Lights and Liberty

This year, we celebrate the rare meeting of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. As we gather with friends and family to count our blessings, we have the opportunity to remember the many immigrants in this country who live in darkness, apart from loved ones and in fear of uncertain futures. As we bless the Hanukkah candles each evening, we have the opportunity to bring the stories of today’s immigrants into the light. 

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Speak a Blessing

After reciting the blessing for the Hanukkah lights, consider blessing the light of justice in Hebrew or English.

בָרוּךְ אָתָא יְיָ אֱלוֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אָשֶר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתַיו וְצִיוָנוּ לְהָדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל חַנוּקַה. נְבָרֵךְ אֶת נֵר הָצָדִיק
Blessed are you, adonai our God, ruler of the world, who commanded us to kindle the chanukah lights. Let us bless the light of justice (n’varech et nar hatzadik).

As the Hanukkiah glows brighter each night, so may our nation become more just. May the lights of Hanukkah fill us with commitment to pursue justice for all.

Torah Portion Commentary and Discussion Questions


Shine a Light

1) Urge your congressional representative to promote just and fair immigration policies with a pathway to citizenship!
Find your representative here.

Call and tell your rep: “Inspired by our values, history and faith, American Jews overwhelmingly support reforming the USA's immoral immigration system by creating a fair and reasonable path to citizenship. My name is ________,  and I’m asking Representative _____________ to support HR 15.”

2) Learn more about why we need Comprehensive Immigration Reform and stay up to date on the HIAS Pennsylvania’s advocacy efforts.


Have a Discussion

1)  Who are some of the immigrants in your family? Where did they come from? How did they enter the United States? Did they already speak English? Visit www.entrydenied.org to see how likely your immigrant ancestors would be to be allowed into the USA today.

2)  How do you think Jews managed to maintain their traditions during the time of the Maccabees? Are there times in your family’s history where your ancestors couldn’t practice their faith openly? What did they do? How do you think immigrants today maintain their cultural and religious traditions?

3)  What are “miracles” in your own family history?

4)  Are there circumstances in which you would willingly separate yourself from the rest of your family? What are they?

5) Who are some immigrants in your community? How has your community benefitted from the influence of immigrants?


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