Thursday, July 9, 2020
Light Shines in Sun Valley Despite Chanukah Tragedies
Rabbi Robbi Sherwin wore a Menorah this year.
Tuesday, December 31, 2019


Chanukah is meant to be a celebration of light—a light that miraculously burnt for eight days until the Jewish people could replenish the temple oil that had been defiled by Syrian invaders centuries ago.

But this year’s Chanukah celebration was marred in New York where attacks on Jews took place every single day during the celebration, culminating with a man forcing his way into a private celebration in the home of a rabbi.

And it was clouded worldwide as the global Jewish community finds itself in its most precarious position since the Holocaust.

Dozens of Menorahs were lit during Saturday’s celebration.

But the light shone through the darkness here in Sun Valley.

It started with a single candle that legendary singer Carole King lit on a Menorah the first night of Chanukah.

She lit the candle not during an actual Chanukah celebration but in a Ketchum church where more than 400 people had gathered to commemorate Christmas with Patty Parson’s Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus.

King, who sang along with the chorus, lit the menorah to the applause of those assembled—there were even a few whoops. Then she shared a Chanukah song off her latest album.

One young man sported a dreidel on his nose.

The day after Christmas Jews and non-Jews gathered in Ketchum Town Square to light a six-foot Menorah in the frigid cold.

And on Saturday more than a hundred Jews gathered together in Ketchum to celebrate Chanukah as a community.

Coming together from second homes around the country, they gathered together in relative security, greeting old friends they hadn’t seen since their last Chanukah in Sun Valley. Youngsters blissfully built dreidels, or spinning tops, and told the story of the miracle of the light to the adults under the care of Rabbi Robbi Sherwin, who wore a menorah on her head.

Then they dug into the traditional Chanukah foods of brisket and potato latkes and donuts—eaten because the oil involved in their cooking symbolizes the oil of Chanukah.

Crystal Thurston posted this picture of Carole King and the Hallelujah Chorus. King has often talked about her roots as a Jewish girl growing up in Brooklyn.

There was a plainclothes policeman in attendance, as there has been at all public Jewish functions in the Wood River Valley since the attack on a synagogue in Philadelphia. But, happily, his biggest task was helping himself to the heaping helpings of food once others had filled their plates.  

While the attacks that have targeted Jews around the world have not been evidenced in Sun Valley, Rabbi Sherwin has had the unenviable task of expressing her sorrow to those under her care every time an anti-Semitic attack takes place in the United States.

“In the face of such hate, we must answer with love, with compassion and with strength,” she wrote just a week ago following the attack on a synagogue in Beverly Hills. “Strength means being proud of our history and heritage and not being afraid to show it. Strength means speaking out against all forms of hate and bigotry. And strength means doing the work that is required of us to make this world a better place.”

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress and the World Holocaust Forum Foundation, recently noted how a worldwide conference convened to find solutions for the Jews just before Kristallnacht in 1938. On that single night in Germany and Austria a hundred Jews were murdered, hundreds of synagogues were destroyed, thousands of Jewish businesses were ransacked and thousands were sent to concentration camps.

 But attendees left without agreement, leaving the Nazis to understand that world would not stand in their way.

“Leaders need to cut off the oxygen given to those who seek to perpetrate attacks against Jews and spread their hate,” said Kantor. “As history has taught us, hatred begins with Jews but it never ends with Jews.”

Kantor added that people worldwide must inoculate against intolerance with education, as no one is born to hate.

As the late holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who once spoke in Sun Valley, said: “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”



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