For most of this past year, our nation and community have battled a devastating global pandemic. Our daily lives have been turned upside down, almost every activity we engage in has been affected, and nearly all of us know someone who’s been affected by COVID-19. In the midst of so much darkness, it is much more difficult to find the light, yet that is exactly what we are supposed to do as we celebrate this holiday season.
Chanukah is a holiday of celebrating heroism. We remember the courage of the Maccabees standing outnumbered against the Greek/Syrian armies. The story has inspired people of many religions for generations. For thousands of years, it has spoken to us as a testament of faith, selflessness and sacrifice. Our heroes have always had the power to illuminate our lives. And right now, we could all use a hero.
Front-line health care workers are the greatest heroes over this past year. They have been brave and strong during times of fear. They daily overcome challenges in their own lives and put the well-being of their patients before their own. Many medical professionals were the first to be exposed to the virus. As of the end of October, they accounted for 6% of all adults hospitalized with the very disease they’ve been fighting. Tragically, 4% of those front-line heroes died.
The bravery of these modern-day Maccabees is truly inspirational. Unfortunately, we often neglect to offer our appreciation to those who risk their lives every day in our own backyard, the men and women on the front lines of a global crisis. Chanukah is also a remembrance of miraculous provision.
Santa Clarita is a place where so many first responders have made a home. Our community is unique with such a high percentage of EMTs, nurses, law enforcement and fire department personnel. We are honored to have these wonderful representatives of humanity’s highest ideals as neighbors and friends. These amazing people, whose lives are dedicated to healing and protecting, are a large part of what makes this community so special. Their commitment and values serve as the bedrock of this area, and we draw strength from their strength, on a daily basis.
In this season of heroes, hope and provision, let us all commit to giving back to those who have provided so much care and hope. This holiday season please show your appreciation to our health care professionals. Most importantly, simply by saying “thank you,” or “we really appreciate the service and sacrifice you make for our community every single day,” can go a long way in reminding these special people that we value the amazing work they do.
May we all share in the glow of this holiday season, and may our lives be illuminated by the light of the love and commitment of our local heroes.
Rabbi Mark Blazer is the rabbi of Temple Beth Ami in Santa Clarita.