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A Chanukah Message from the Principal

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Chanukah, as we know, is an 8 day festival of light, that begins on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, that among other things, celebrates the miracle of the small jug of oil that was found in the Beit Mikdash, that was only enough for one day, yet managed to last for 8 consecutive days. 

Just as we come together in our own families, and in our own homes, to do the special mitzvah of lighting the Chanukiah, to remind us of our Jewish History and tradition, so too, at TanenbaumCHAT, do we gather as a קהילה (a community), a משפחה (a family), and an עם אחד (a united nation) to ignite a spark of Jewish learning, leadership and yiddishkeit that is filled with a tremendous sense of warmth, brightness and shine for all to see and celebrate. 

There exists a machloket, or disagreement, on how we should be lighting our candles between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel. Jewish tradition chose to follow the ways of Hillel as it relates to how we light our candles. 

Sources tell us that according to Shammai, we start out by lighting eight candles on the first night, and then we decrease by one candle each night. Hillel maintains that we start out by lighting one candle, and then we increase, until we have a full Chanukiah on the eighth night. 

Shammai says that on the first night of Chanukah one must kindle all one's lights, as one needs every ounce of energy to fight the darkness outside. He also suggests that we light the Chanukiah in this manner, and count down the lights, in order to be the same as the order that the sacrifices of the feast were offered. 

Hillel says, forget the evil, we need to focus on positive action. He says, don’t worry about the darkness for now; just take one small step forward and light one small candle at a time. The key, however, is that tomorrow you can add one more light. He suggests small but consistent growth and before you know it, your chanukiah will be full. Another reason given by the Talmud in support of this custom is the phrase, ma'alin b'kodesh v'ain moridin, מעלין בקודש ואין מורידין, which means, "We go up in matters of holiness and not down."

Like Hillel, at TanenbaumCHAT, we continue to add brightness and light to our glowing candles, and rely on one another for collaboration, growth and success. The set of lights that have come together, this year, at our school, have created one strong and bright flame whose brightness can be seen at great distances. 

William Arthur Ward once said, “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning”. When the fire within our students is ignited by the leader candle, by our outstanding and talented faculty, the wick shines brightly with a glowing light. 

On a daily basis, our teachers ignite the flames of our students and help nurture these lights so that they may continue to shine brightly within our community and beyond, and with a fire, a passion, that lasts far beyond the high school years.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish our entire TanenbaumCHAT קהילה, a Chag Sameach filled with enduring light, learning and shine. 

May we go from strength to strength, from bright light to bright light, and may we continue to celebrate the glowing and colourful flames that have united as one beautiful and warm fire at TanenbaumCHAT.

Renee Cohen
Principal, TanenbaumCHAT