This Hanukkah, Kumi is a Gift

By Rabbi Tamara Cohen, Chief of Programs

With Hanukkah approaching, I’ve been thinking about the idea of pirsum ha-nes, “publicizing the miracle,” which is considered central to the observance of lighting candles during this festival. The idea of publicizing the miracle is why so many of us light candles with family, friends, and community; why many of us light them by a window, and why, some light large Hanukkiyot (Hanukhah menorahs) outside in a public place.

A few weeks ago, Moving Traditions hosted a four-day retreat for 20 amazing teens participating in Kumi: An Anti-Oppression Teen Leadership ExperienceThe year-long program helps teens from across the country build multiracial Jewish community, learn in powerful affinity spaces, and strengthen their skills as anti-racist and Jews of Color teens interrupting antisemitism, racism and sexism. It was a powerful weekend filled with meaningful conversations that left me so grateful for the miracle of Kumi and the opportunity to learn from the teens engaged in its work.

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Following the retreat, a few of the Kumi teens shared with the Moving Traditions Board how the program has impacted them. One teen participating in the anti-racist ally track shared that Kumi not only helped him feel more prepared to speak up against racism, antisemitism, and homophobia in the wider world, but also in his own synagogue. This same teen further shared that the program has had a multi-generational impact, as candid conversations with his grandparents inspired them to follow his lead in confronting racism against Jews of Color in their own synagogue.

To me, this teen was doing a version of pirsum ha-nes. He wasn’t just taking the powerful learning from Kumi for himself. He was sharing it with others, spreading the miraculous or at least transformative power of being a member of a multiracial Jewish community that is truly practicing accountability, repair, and brave conversation.

This is just one example of how Moving Traditions is providing innovative education and building proud Jewish identities. It might feel small but, in my experience, especially in our highly contentious and polarized atmosphere, it’s pretty close to miraculous.

Wishing you and your family a Hanukkah filled with joy and hope.