In the last few weeks our community has suffered some devastating losses, horrific shootings at Saugus High and fires of shocking magnitude. We have been hit from all sides in what has been a traumatic fall season. These events have left us frightened, distraught, angry and somewhat disoriented.
One thing that was constant throughout these crises was the sacrifice and selflessness of our first responders.
We witnessed the bravery of parents/law enforcement professionals who were immediately on the scene to help our high school students.
We welcomed firefighters, from across the state and around the country, who left their families and own communities to mobilize in fighting fires that were unparalleled in their ferocity.
Chanukah is a season of celebrating heroism. We remember the courage of the Maccabees standing outnumbered against the Greek/Syrian armies. Their courage and sacrifice were the first instance of people fighting for religious freedom, and their example has inspired so many others in the last nearly 2,200 years.
In our own days we should do more to honor our military who have fought for the freedom and security of our citizens, as well as so many others overseas.
We too often neglect to offer our appreciation to all those who risk their lives every day in our own backyard, men and women of our police, fire and paramedic departments.
Santa Clarita, in particular, is a place where so many veterans, active duty military and first responders have made a home. Our community is unique in that so many of these brave men and women are next door neighbors.
Remember many of these heroes; law enforcement, EMT’s, nurses and fire department personnel, are traveling outside of this area to help others.
We have members from dozens of regional departments, as well as state and federal agents here as well.
We are honored to have these wonderful representatives of humanity’s highest ideals in our midst.
This holiday season please show your appreciation to our first responders. Support the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Annual Holiday Toy Drive or L.A. County Fire Department’s Spark of Love Toy Drive. These are great ways to partner with our heroes as they help spread joy to children.
Most importantly, simply by saying “Thank you,” or “We really appreciate the service and sacrifice you make for our community on a daily basis,” can go a long way in reminding these special people that we value the amazing work they do.
This holiday season let us celebrate our local heroes, who so often are a light in the darkness.
Rabbi Mark Blazer is the rabbi of Temple Beth Ami in Santa Clarita.