The essence of chanukah is that the oil for the eternal light in the temple that was enough to last just a few days miraculously lasted for a full 8 days and nights until there was a fresh supply. It’s something we’ve celebrated off and on (mostly off, if I’m honest) since our sons were old enough to participate – mainly because I wanted them to have at least a basic understanding of their Jewish heritage. When they were primary school age we celebrated with a few other mixed heritage families.
This year though it has taken on a new level of meaning for me. Something about holding on to hope in the face of reality pointing in the other direction. The coincidence of chanukah falling at the same time as the end-game of the Brexit talks has been powerful. It has felt like the days have been a meditation on holding on to hope when there seemed little reason for any.
I’m under no illusions. In the unlikely event that Boris Johnson gets any kind of a deal, it will be thin gruel indeed and little better than no deal at all. It will certainly make life even more difficult for people living in the UK, especially those already most disadvantaged. The millions who don’t currently have enough money to live on (ie buy food, pay their bills, pay for housing) will of course be hit hardest, and they will be joined by the many who will lose their jobs this year and next because of the dual crises of covid and Brexit. Both appallingly mishandled by our government, and Brexit an entirely self-inflicted blow. Am I angry? well actually, yes I am. Very.
Today I took part in a webinar to launch a report by the University of Bath and The Good Economy proposing that’anchor institutions’ in our city should take the lead in rebuilding Bath’s local economy in the wake of Brexit and covid19. There were some exciting and positive ideas shared, and real enthusiasm from some organisations that are potentially key to making this happen (University of Bath, Bath and NE Somerset Council, Royal United Hospital). I came away with some reasons for hope.
Another 3 nights of chanukah to go after tonight. There will be potato latkes* at the end. And doughnuts* some time too I think.
*fried foods are traditionally eaten to represent the oil. No Jewish festival is complete without eating something to represent something.