I post the lyrics to Peter Yarrow’s song Light One Candle every year at Chanukah, because I believe deeply in the message in it. It’s also relevant to a couple of articles I’ve recently read; one describes the song as being controversial because it’s “not Jewish enough”; in my opinion if that whole Chosen People idea means anything, it means that we have certain responsibilities toward other people that come out of our own experiences. “Light one candle for those who are suffering the pain we learned so long ago.”

Tikkun Olam, healing the world, is a Jewish value; to quote the Velveteen Rabbi quoting the Pirke Avot, “Jewish tradition teaches us to cultivate hope in place of despair. It’s not incumbent on us to finish the work, but neither are we free to refrain from beginning it.” That is also why I agree with another article, that “Black Lives Matter!” is indeed a Jewish issue. All lives matter.

Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks that their light didn’t die
Light one candle for the pain they endured
When their right to exist was denied
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand
But light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peacemaker’s time is at hand

[Chorus:]
Don’t let the light go out!
It’s lasted for so many years!
Don’t let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears.

Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe
And light one candle for those who are suffering
Pain we learned so long ago
Light one candle for all we believe in
That anger not tear us apart
And light one candle to find us together
With peace as the song in our hearts

[Chorus]

What is the memory that’s valued so highly
That we keep it alive in that flame?
What’s the commitment to those who have died
That we cry out they’ve not died in vain?
We have come this far always believing
That justice would somehow prevail
This is the burden, this is the promise
This is why we will not fail!

[Chorus]
Don’t let the light go out!
Don’t let the light go out!
Don’t let the light go out!