My grandfather came to this country in 1913 as a young man from Jamaica in hopes of capturing the American Dream. He worked hard to give his family every opportunity he never had, and more. Along with my grandmother he instilled in his children the values of education, hard work and giving back to others.
Our family practices Judaism. My grandfather converted long ago. I owe my Jewish heritage to him, and I am now a member of The Temple in Atlanta.
Saturday evening, December 24, marks the beginning of the eight day Jewish festival of Hanukkah.
As I light the first candle of the Menorah that has long been associated with Jewish faith, I will reflect on the story about the miracle of Hanukkah that occurred 2,200 years ago and its relevance today.
As the story goes, a small band of faithful Jews fought against the odds to win their freedom against a powerful Syrian-Greek army and reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. In order to rededicate the Temple, they needed oil to light the Menorah, but they barely had enough to last one night. Nevertheless, they lit the first candle anyway. To their surprise, the oil miraculously lasted for eight days. Meanwhile, they had enough time to make more oil to keep the flame lit.
That’s why Hanukkah lasts for eight days. The Menorah symbolizes light, wisdom and divine inspiration. We celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah with eight days of festivities, praise and thanksgiving.
The miracle of Hanukkah is an inspiring story that means different things to different people. For me, it is a story of courage. It is the testament of a group of faithful people who, despite not having the resources necessary, had the courage to try anyway.
Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t know what to do or how you were going to get through it? Did you give up or take a leap of faith?
One of my favorite quotes is from Theodore Roosevelt who talks about the man in the arena as a symbol of human courage. He writes:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
As Chairman of Fulton County, I am in the arena of public life fighting for issues that are important to me, such as fairness, civility, equality, opportunity, and inclusion. Even in times of uncertainty, limited resources, and mistrust, I will continue to advocate on your behalf as residents of Fulton County.
As we reflect on the Hanukkah meaning, I ask that you join me in taking a stand and working towards a better Fulton County. We have to exercise courage, even in the darkest of times, to create our own light and together we will shine as bright as ever!