Tonight we light the 3rd candle of Hanukkah. The story of Hanukkah is that even in the darkest of times, we make light. The tradition is that we light a new candle for each of the 8 nights of the holiday, thereby increasing the light each night.
The rabbis understood that light was not just the physical light that we see with our eyes. There’s an inner light in all of us, and when we share our gifts, we spread our light.
This year has required a lot of light to make a dent in the darkness. One of the ways I receive light and goodness is through the creativity of musicians, artists, and poets.
They regularly light up my days with their creativity but also, their compassion, generosity, and joy.
Here are some of my favorites this year (not an exclusive list):
Increase The Light With Music:
Chava Mirel whose voice and soul are angelic released several new albums recently. Her inner light shines through all she does. Her Achat Sha’alti (One Thing Do I Ask) is heavenly.
Another favorite this year is Elana Arian, who is such a talent and delight. Her piece on Lovingkindness touched me so deeply.
Rabbi Yosef Goldman is another amazing musician who also just released a new album. His soulful music has kept me inspired for months. Here is his version of Ein Od (There Is No Other). It is wonderful to listen to while meditating. He is co-director of the Rising Song Institute which is changing the Jewish music landscape with inspirational, gorgeous music.
Increase the Light with Poetry
A few years ago, I created a Facebook group because I love poetry so much. Through the page (you can ask to join here.) so many new poets with original work post their beautiful contributions.
Devon Spier is one of my favorites. She’s a rabbinical student, author & poet. Devon amazes me with each new poem, filled with compassion and love. In each poem, she invites us to open our hearts and minds just a little bit more to be inclusive of all.
Stacey Zisook Robinson is a prolific and beautiful poet. She writes with honesty and clarity and has recently released a new book. Stacey has struggled this year with chronic health issues and yet she always seems to touch beauty and gratitude. Inspiring, always.
And then there is Julia Fehrenbacher, so filled with light and love and insight. Her poetry helps me remember to be gentle with myself, open up, ease into each day with compassion.
Increase the Light with Art
Sherri Bearden, who I know from Twitter, tells me that her “art is a form of resistance.” One day, Sherri wrote to me that she had painted something for me. Because I post a lot about the importance of joy even when times are painful – Sherri told me that my posts had really touched her. She calls this painting “Joy of Being” and she sent it to me!
Lisa Heiman is another Twitter friend. Her sketches are amazing and bring joy to her many fans. Lisa regularly posts about loving each other. Her compassion is overflowing and she is an absolute delight.
Joanne Fink, the amazing creator of Zenspirations, is always so generous. She posts beautiful calligraphy and inspiration all the time. She is an accomplished author of many books, and has helped so many people in their walk through grief.
Who/what brings you light? Please post in the comments so we can all share the light.
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PS – for a Hanukkah Candles Meditation, click here.
Hi Rabbi, Jill. Thank you for the invite to join you on this newsletter. I’m a lifelong learning and love this stuff.
Speaking of light being a positive force, I’m sure you know a lot of what Dr. King said about light. One of mine by him, “ Only light can drive out darkness, and only love can drive out hate.”
Sherri Bearden says
I remember watching MLK speaking about how “only love can conquer hate” and he often spoke about “seeing the light” and making it to the promised land in his famous “I have a Dream” speech. We still have so far to go but we must keep trying every day. A wise old man told me once after I had told him “I love everybody until they give me a reason not to.” He said something so wise and so profound and so true. He said, “it’s easy to love people who love us back, it’s much harder for us to love our enemies. So yes, only light drives away the darkness and only love can conquer hate and we must love those who hate us.
Maralee Gordon says
In addition to those beautiful voices, melodies and prayers you mention, those of Josh Warshawsky have been inspiring me as well.
Mary Ann Malkoff says
What an amazing time we live in. All three of the artists were available with my Amazon Music subscription. Can you imagine, listening to great Jewish music so simply? With Google’s help, I can find read deeper into Jewish thought and follow artists and poets I would have never heard of. For a kid that grew up reading encyclopedias and using card catalogs in libraries, I am in awe about the choices at our fingertips.
Rabbi Jill Zimmerman says
It’s awesome! I love loving in this time. I look forward to hearing which artists and poets and musicians you resonate with. Did you know Cantor Natalie Young just came out with a new beautiful album? I’ll link it.