In this holiday season, reach out to those who are hurting. They would love a call, visit

Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends.

Somehow, saying Happy Hanukkah, when the Holy Land is engaged in gruesome war, doesn’t seem appropriate. Yet, I believe the very meaning of Hanukkah is one of faith and courage. And because of that, my wish for Israel, and the surrounding area, is one of peace and goodwill.

My wish for goodwill includes my empathy for the lives of the innocent children who have been killed in the war. And it includes my pain and disdain for the acts of rape and brutality by Hamas militants against women and girls who were captured and held hostage. I further wish that all the hostages will be set free.

It’s a time of year when our hearts should be filled with gratitude and joy and hope and peace, yet for many, this is a season of sadness. Many find It hard to rejoice when there is fighting and strife, not only in the Holy Land, but also in other countries around the world.

This is also a time when the memories of loved ones who have passed on come back stronger than ever. Sometimes the memories are joyful. Sometimes, not. When the memories are joyful, they help to sustain us through the holiday season and beyond. When they are not, the holiday season seems to be filled with unending pain.

So, how do we find the peace in the season that Jesus Christ was born to bring to the world? How do we lift the spirits of the oppressed? The hungry? The homeless and the hopeless?

As I write this column, I am thinking about several people I know, who are having a hard time right about now. And I am thinking about what I can do to help put the joy of the season back into their life.

Sometimes it can seem awkward to reach out to someone you know is hurting. You might even feel you are invading their privacy, just by reaching out to them. Trust me — invading their privacy is just what they need. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who is hurting.

A telephone call to someone who is shut-in, just to let them know you are thinking of them, can go a long way. A kind, “I-was-thinking-of-you” can do wonders in the life of someone who thinks the world has left them behind.

I am reminded of Hanukkah, and what its lesson of faith and miracles is to humankind. Thousands of years ago when the Maccabees were fighting to stay in Israel, their enemy entered their temple and defiled all the oils.

The Maccabees searched and found one cruse of oil that was not defiled. But it only contained enough to light for one day. That’s when the miracle happened: The oil lasted for eight days. And the Maccabees were victorious.

So just as Jews celebrate Hanukkah as a symbol of freedom from oppression, and Christians celebrate the season as a time to bring peace on earth and goodwill to all, let’s each of us just do our part. Let’s reach out to someone and know that we can make a difference. Let’s just believe. It’s in our heart.

Coral Gables Hanukkah celebration

All are invited to the annual Coral Gables Festival of Lights Hanukkah celebration from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 (Sunday) at Ponce Circle Park, 2800 Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables.

The celebration is being heralded as a response to the rise in antisemitic incidents since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and Israel’s counterattack.

“Our response to hatred of any kind must never be to cower or hide our faith,” said Rabbi Avraham Stolik, who along with his wife Chany, directs the Chabad of downtown Coral Gables. “The story of Hanukkah is the tremendous power of light to overcome darkness. We can have no better response to negativity we encounter than to gather in even greater numbers and celebrate the light of the menorah in public.”

The Hanukkah celebration will feature a Hanukkah-themed fire truck parade and gelt drop. Coral Gables firefighters will affix a large menorah to their truck and a dreidel mascot will shower down chocolate gelt (coins) for participants.

There will be live musical entertainment and carnival rides, a rock-climbing wall, an obstacle course, train rides and a toddler play center. There will also be bracelet-making, hot potato latkes, traditional Hanukkah donuts, cotton candy, popcorn and face painting.

The highlight of the evening will be the lighting of the candles on the large 12-foot menorah that will illuminate Ponce Circle Park during the holiday season.

“Unity is what makes a strong community,” said Chany Stolik. “Hanukkah is a time for us to tune into this because together we can accomplish great things.”

She added: “In the spirit of unity, we have custom-designed ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ T-shirts, to be given out complimentary to anyone who has reserved for the event. There is no greater way to combat hate, than with harmony.”

Handel’s ‘Messiah’

I don’t know about you, but one of the events that really gets me into the Christmas season is singing along when Handel’s “Messiah” is performed. If you are a like-minded person, this one is for you:

The second Annual Messiah Sing-Along will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Ancient Spanish Monastery, 16711 W. Dixie Hwy. in North Miami Beach.

The program will feature the Miami Messiah Choir, the Jubilate Vocal Ensemble, the Jubilate String Orchestra and soloists Charmy Kirton, Denise Anderson, Nicole Bartholomew and Ruben Aponte. Dr. Nelson Hall is the director.

There will be a rehearsal at 7 p.m. on Dec. 11 (Monday) in the auditorium of Miami Union Academy, 12600 NW Fourth Ave. in North Miami.

Call time is 6 p.m. Dec. 12. Bring your scores and join the sing-along. The event is free and open to the public.

Bea Hines
Bea Hines