Remember when Harry Belafonte sang “Hinei Ma Tov Uma Naim” in the Fifties and the Sixties? It is hard to believe, and a long time ago, but at the JCRC/AJC we have never given up on believing that diverse folks should join together and work together – and how good it is!

Just a month ago, on behalf of the Jewish community of Detroit, the JCRC/AJC welcomed the new Japanese Consul General, Shindo Yusuke, at Soul Café, where the rabbinic supervisor of the restaurant passed on thanks to the Japanese people for the Japanese hero, Chiune Sugihara, who saved his grandfather from certain death during the Holocaust.

Just a week before, I gathered to show solidarity with the Ahmadia Muslim community in Troy after their mosque was vandalized. Then, next week JCRC/AJC will celebrate Chanukah with our Black brothers and sisters as Rev. Ken Flowers will preach against antisemitism in his Greater New Mount Moriah Baptist church, and then we will join together for a festive kosher lunch at the St. Regis hotel. After that we will celebrate with the Hindu community, reflecting with members of the State House on the meaning of Hanukkah and Diwali.

Today’s world is riddled with racism, antisemitism and, in general, so much hatred and polarization. One way of pushing back is calling out this hatred and speaking up against it, advocating for laws that do not allow it to spread. JCRC/AJC is committed to advocating in defense of the Jewish community – and the Jewish State – and defending all those threatened by the difficult environment we are facing.

The Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC works hard in another way to challenge the intolerant voices: we create relationships and friendships across the religious, community and cultural divide which enable us to come together and believe the narrative of fear and division. We are stronger together, we are better together, and we have a more enriched world when we can join together and work together.

Hanukkah is a holiday of courage and miracles for the Jewish people, but it is also an outward facing holiday. The celebration of Hanukkah was always supposed to include the lighting of candles for the world to see – for everyone in the street to join in and celebrate religious freedom and human diversity. At the JCRC/AJC we light our candles to show how the Jewish community can be a beacon of light for all communities – and how our Jewish celebration can embrace all communities who live around us.

Happy Hanukkah!