When I light Shabbos candles each week, I bring the extra soul of Shabbos into my heart and home. But there is a prayer attached to lighting candles that asks G-d to bless all our close ones, family and friends. You send messages of light and soul out to others and ask that they be blessed this week.
I send some of these messages of light to those who are not religious. Some I call before Shabbos to let them know when Shabbos starts, that they should take that moment and feel the message of love and peace and Shabbos that I send them.
I am in Israel for Chanukkah and most Israeli Jews are secular. But tonight, the first night of Chanukkah, the non-religious bus driver wished me a happy Chanukkah. The non-religious door man wished me a happy Chanukkah. The smiles on their faces.
The light of Chanukkah is special. There could have been miracles associated with different areas of Jewish life, but the miracle occurred with the special olive oil for the candelabra in the holy temple. After the Greek army desecrated the holy temple, and the Jews reclaimed it, they found only enough oil to keep the lamp lit for one night. The menorah/candelabra remained lit for eight days, enough time for new holy oil to be prepared.
The miracle occurred with light. Unlike the Persians who wanted to physically kills the Jews, which we commemorate on Purim, the Greeks did not want to physically kill us, they wanted to spiritually kill us, they wanted to destroy our religion, Judaism.
Then how very special it is that even those who are secular Jews, feel the light of Chanukkah in their souls. They take a moment to wish a happy Chanukkah. They stand by as the public menorah is lit. They honor the pintele yid/the spark of Judaism, the glowing ember that shines in their souls. They consciously deny it, but the light of Chanukkah stokes the spark in them, and it shines forward.
Nurture that ember in Jews you know who are not religious. Invite them to your home for a candlelighting experience and latkes, stoke the light in their souls, remind them that they are welcome members of our tribe.
Chag sameach from the Holy Land.