In anticipation of his attendance at the Boulder Center for Judaism’s annual Pearl Street Mall Menorah Lighting, Governor Polis granted an exclusive Chanukah interview to boulderjewishnews.com and chabad.org.
What does Chanukah represent to you?
Governor Polis: Chanukah is a reminder to always be proud of who you are and to stand up for what you believe. The story of Chanukah reminds us of leadership and identity-the Maccabees stood up for their Jewish faith in the face of adversity. And freedom won over tyranny. The story of Chanukah is a timely reminder to continue our own fights for freedom and, to support those fighting persecution across the globe. From supporting brave Ukrainians fighting against Putin’s brutal war to standing up for Iranians protesting for their rights, the story of Chanukah carries important lessons that inspire us still today.
Tell us about a situation in your life where you saw darkness transformed into light
Governor Polis: I have a motto, a commitment, to lead joyously. When things get difficult, it is important to me to stay positive and lead with joy. The story of Chanukah is a great reminder that with resilience, community, and perseverance we can achieve the unexpected.
In the uncertain early days of the COVID-pandemic, we worked day and night to make sure there were enough supplies for essential workers, enough hospital beds for Coloradans, and enough information to update people with the constantly changing environment. While this was a difficult time for all, there was unquestionably light that shone through and helped us to continue leading joyously throughout. I think back to early on in the pandemic when people in Colorado and across the country would yell or bang their pots and pans every night as a way to thank our frontline health care workers and cheer them on. It was a way for all of us to feel connected, even when we couldn’t be together physically. We worked hard to make sure hospital capacity was never overwhelmed, to make sure essential workers had the PPE they needed to save lives, and to re-open schools as safely and quickly as possible, and it was inspiring to see the way that Coloradans stood up and worked together during this time. The celebration of light is a time to reflect on the great joy of coming through a common challenge together.
What is your fondest Chanukah memory?
Governor Polis: Growing up I loved lighting the menorah with my grandmother. We have a family tradition of making my great-grandmother’s latke recipe which we make with our kids still today.
Question: What’s your favorite topping on a doughnut/Sufgoniya?
Governor Polis: I like sharing the traditional strawberry jelly Sufgoniyot with my kids. They especially love the powdered sugar on top which usually winds up on their clothes.
Bonus Question: What is your message to the Jewish community regarding Jewish pride and fighting antisemitism?
Governor Polis: The story of Chanukah is an important reminder that each of us has a responsibility to speak up for what is right and be proud of who we are and where we come from. We’ve unfortunately seen antisemitism on the rise, and it is important as ever to call out this ugly hatred everywhere we see it. This is not a political issue; this is a human issue. Whether on the right or the left or anywhere in between, we must speak out against antisemitism when and where it appears. The vibrant and thriving Jewish community in Colorado is a light that shines through the darkness of antisemitism.
Join us on the Pearl Street Mall on Monday, December 19th, starting at 5:30 pm.
Governor Polis will address the crowd. Ira Greschler will light the largest menorah in Boulder County. Steve Brodsky will make music. Chef Josh will make latkes. And the Boulder Fire Dept will drop chocolate gelt from the top of their ladder truck.
Special this year! Sign up in advance to receive your very own light-up Menorah gloves.
This exciting event is hosted jointly by the Boulder JCC and the Boulder County Center for Judaism and supported by multiple wonderful sponsors. For more information about Chanukah programs visit boulderjudaism.com.