Tonight is the beginning of the celebration of Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday that celebrates dedication, resilience, and identity.
While this is not ordinarily a solemn holiday in the modern Jewish faith, and usually is marked by festivities for children, latkes, and sweets, this year more than ever I feel we need to honor the real meaning of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah marks the story of the Maccabees, who liberated the Holy Temple of Jerusalem from Hellenic dominance and restored it to the Land of Israel.
During that quest, the liberators found only a single small container of oil, enough to light the Menorah for a single day but a miracle occurred, and they were able to light the Menorah with this oil for 8 full days.
Hence, the “Hanukkah Miracle.” Centuries later, those who founded the modern State of Israel identified with their ancestors who were so connected with freedom and liberty.
Today, we find ourselves still keenly aware of the same issues that faced our ancestors: oppression, liberty, identity, and religious freedom.
During the past year, our country has seen a number of anti-Semitic crimes, culminating most tragically with the murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
This and other events make our hearts weary and heavy, and serve as a reminder that the causes championed by the Maccabees must continue on in our modern world.
So this year, if you celebrate, as you enjoy latkes and sweets and light your family Menorah, remember the true meaning of the holiday and vow to continue the work that must be done.
If you do not observe, you may still make the vow to press forward to eliminate hate and anti-Semitism from our world.
Search for the light. It is there.
May you and your family be blessed with gifts of love, peace, and happiness.
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