Miracles are referenced throughout Jewish sacred texts. When the Israelites were at the Red Sea, they experienced the miracle of getting across. When they were hungry in the desert, they received the miracle of Manna. While the story of Chanukah isn’t in the Torah, it’s perhaps one of the most well-known miracles. With only enough oil to keep the Temple’s menorah burning for a single day, the flames continued to flicker for eight nights, bringing light and hope to the Jews.
However, during the middle of the cold winter months, it can be challenging for some in our community to focus on light. The winter weather can create an unforgiving environment for those who are homeless and hungry — even in our own backyard.
According to the 2019 Homeless Census, over 36,000 people are estimated to be homeless in the Bay Area, with 70% living in Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Alameda Counties. And Second Harvest’s 2018 Hunger Research report found that more than a third of Silicon Valley students ages 5-17 receive free or reduced price school meals.
Beth Am has a long tradition of supporting organizations such as Home & Hope, LifeMoves, Ecumenical Hunger Program, and Jewish Family and Children’s Services to fight hunger and homelessness in our community throughout the year. Through our annual Hunger and Homelessness drive, we seek to bring warmth and light into the lives of our neighbors in need. It comes as no surprise that these themes also pervade the Bible and Jewish history. In fact, during the most important fast day of the Jewish year, we are reminded to “share your bread with the hungry and take the wretched poor into your home; when you see the naked, clothe him and do not ignore your own kin.” (Isaiah 58:7)
During this time of year, when we gather around the Hanukah menorah to celebrate the miracles in our own lives, I hope that we'll also have the opportunity to bring the miracle of light and hope to others.
Please support Beth Am’s annual Hunger and Homelessness campaign. Thank you!