The Shamash is a candle – in the centre of the Menorah – and is used to light the other candles of the Menorah in the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could “be the Shamash” — lighting a candle of goodness, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, thoughtfulness, gentleness, hope in our world.

This night, people of the Jewish faith begin their celebration of Hanukkah  – an eight day holiday marking the victory of the Jews against persecution and religious oppression long ago which commemorates the miracle of one small flask of oil being able to light the Menorah for a full eight days!  Each of the eight nights, the Shamash will light one of the eight candles.  Always an important ritual, an important celebration in the lives of observant Jews, with the rise in anti-semitism, it somehow seems even more important that they continue lighting the Menorah so they can “be the Shamash” in the world.

And while I’m not Jewish, I like the symbolism of the Shamash and am so very proud of our little town of Duncan, British Columbia where each year, on one of the nights of Hanukkah, the Menorah is lit in our Town Square as part of our commitment to celebrating people of different faiths, traditions, nationalities.

I went to the lighting last year, and when the lively music began, a Jewish father and his sons (who sat close by the stage), found themselves dancing with people of the Jewish faith, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics and who-knows-what-else.

Smiles were everywhere!
Doughnuts were served … jelly doughnuts, of course … yum!
Strangers chatted with strangers.
A sense of celebration was present.

It really was a magical night
… the over-eight-foot menorah on the stage
… the children dancing below
… the Christmas trees (put up and sponsored by local merchants) surrounding City Square
… our little town’s Christmas tree high on top of the City Hall (look carefully and you’ll see the Menorah, the merchants’ trees and the tree on top of City Hall) all combined together in a lovely glimpse of the possibility of peace among different religions and people of no religious persuasion.

“Something” pulled us all together tonight.

Was it the music?
Was it the Mystery of the Menorah?
Was it the joy on the faces of the children?
Was it the anticipation of Kwanzaa?
Was it the celebration of Hanukkah itself?
Was it the Christmas Spirit?
Was it G_d?

Whatever it was, it was a wonderful example of what I like to think of as “Shamash happening” in our little town.  And it was wonderful.   Truly, wonder-filled as can be seen by the photos below.   

And yes, I’ll be there at this year’s celebration in our Town Square.  I wouldn’t miss it!

Happy Hanukkah, dear Jewish friends.  And may we all be the “Shamash” in this world in some small way.

© June Maffin
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