The Unity Menorah Project: Lighting Up Dark Times

Unity Menorah
Unity Menorah

Chanukah is a wonderful time of the year when we come together with friends and family to celebrate the Festival of Lights by kindling the Menorah, enjoying holiday foods and giving Chanukah Gelt.

This year also marks the year of Hakhel, which is the Hebrew word for unity, on the Jewish calendar. Every seventh year the entire Jewish nation in Biblical Israel, men, women, and children, would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to visit the Holy Temple and show their solidarity with each other and to rededicate their faith in Hashem and to the ideals of living life for a higher purpose. It was a time of great joy and celebration, when people experienced the unity of their nation and the wholesomeness of living for a higher spiritual purpose.

This year of Hakhel – Unity arrives at a crucial time. It follows two years of social isolation and the hiatus of communal functions due to COVID-19 restrictions. To highlight the importance of community and people coming together for the greater good, we organized the Unity Menorah Project.

The Unity Menorah is made of collective brushstrokes painted onto a large 10-foot-wide canvas hanging at our center. Utilizing cutting-edge technology, in addition to having the ability to add your brushstroke and signature in person, you can also do so virtually by visiting UnityMenorah.com, thus opening the project to a global audience. The real and digital brushstrokes are creating a stunning mural that will symbolize the beauty that can result from the individual contribution to a collective endeavor. The Unity Menorah design is overseen by local artist Nathan Slate Joseph.

We chose the Menorah as the emblem for this project as it symbolizes the conquest of light over darkness. During a period when the Jewish nation’s sovereignty and religious freedom were threatened by the tyrannical regime of the Syrian Greeks, the people united together to overthrow their oppressors and regain the right to live as a free nation. They rededicated the Holy Temple and found one small cruise of pure oil with which to light the Menorah. Miraculously, that small cruise of oil lasted for eight days resulting in the holiday of Chanukah. The Menorah has since become a symbol of light vanquishing darkness, and the triumph of freedom over tyranny.

The Unity Menorah project utilizing art and technology allows us to come together in this very unique way highlighting the importance of unity and creating a symbol of light.

We encourage you and your family to add your brushstroke and signature in person during the Chanukah party which will take place at our center on Sunday, December 25, 4-6 p.m. You can also do so virtually by visiting UnityMenorah.com

Together, we can create a unique symbol of beauty and light that will serve as a reminder of what can be achieved when we join together for the greater good and for a Higher spiritual purpose.

Rabbi Berel Lerman is affiliated with the Center For Jewish Life — Chabad Sag Harbor.

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