The evening shadows lengthen. We prepare ourselves to light the holiday candles. In this act we unite and identify ourselves in time and space with all Jews in other periods and places of our history. Albert Einstein stood in awe of the universe as he struggled to formulate his theory of a unified field. He was not ready to assign consciousness to the unity he proposed. But our ancestors taught us of a Divine Unity: the Source of all things who unites us all as one family. From this idea they developed the concept of ethical monotheism.
Our prophets claimed that the unity of creation called us to act. We still hear their voices, calling us to work for social justice as the foundation for community peace. I come tonight because I want to join this process, as we build a creative and fulfilling Jewish life. I hope each person who participates in this Seder will add their efforts, as we learn, understand, and enrich the traditions of our past, making them meaningful for our future.
As we foster the beauty and uniqueness of our own heritage, so we support those who further the beauty and uniqueness of their respective traditions.
We unite with other Jews and with all who act so that people around the world can live in peace and freedom and develop so they can reap the fruits of their lives as human beings. We know that as long as we live a light glows within us. Even when we close our eyes we experience it. The world itself fills with light and we humans have the ability to increase or decrease its presence.
Look! The day ends. The earth turns from sunshine to dusk and then to darkness. As so often before, we assume for ourselves the task of kindling candles in the night, to enlighten the dark corners of our world. We still live in perilous times. Behind us, though receding into the memories of even the oldest among us, we can still sense the fires of Auschwitz and Hiroshima. Before us, on all sides we face a terror of towers falling and the potential of thermonuclear clouds rising. We gather tonight to create from fire, not the heat of destruction, but the light of instruction; indeed to see more clearly the wisdom, strength and caring that glows from within each of us. Many peoples of the world marked significant events with fire. We Jews also associate lighting fires with special occasions. Like other peoples who regarded fire as a gift to be used wisely and with respect, we also focus our attention on the Source of the lights we use in our ceremonies.
May these candles, lighted on the Festival of Freedom, bring light into our hearts and minds. May they renew our courage to act for justice and freedom here and now. May they illumine the path to truth, justice and peace. And so we repeat the ancient blessing:
Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kiddishanu b’mitzvotav,v’tzivanu lehadlik neir shel [Shabbat v'shel] Yom Tov.
Blessed are You Adonai our God, Sovereign of all space and time, who has made us distinct through Your directives and has directed us to kindle the [Shabbat and] holiday lights.
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