Some of our holidays are steeped in tradition and law; some are more about joy and fun. They are less serious, less heavy on the soul. Chanukah is a great holiday. On the fun side, it’s about greasy foods you try to limit the rest of the year: we eat fried potato pancakes, jelly donuts and chocolate. It’s about light and sound: we light an additional candle each night, filling the room with candlelight and song. We gather in the corner of the room. My husband and children each light a menorah and we sing both the blessings and other songs.
On the serious side, Chanukah is about so much more.
The first year, Elie was in the army, I took my three younger children to the shore on the last day of the holiday. I wrote about it here – A Candle and a Wave (amazing pictures).
His second year, I wrote about his lighting the menorah at a checkpoint in Where you light a candle. This was the Chanukah right before the Gaza War…and he didn’t make it home the entire time because tensions were escalating; war was coming.
His last year in the army, I was calm enough to write more about the holiday than about him. I wrote about Chanukah and the IDF.
So – this year, relatively calm still, I’ll write a bit more on the holiday, perhaps, and only a little on the army. Chanukah is the story of weak triumphant; of good over bad; of freedom; of principle; of light. An evil king of the Greeks began oppressing the Jews. His name was Antiochus and he used his power to persecute the Jews in their land. He forbade many of our religious practices; demanded that pigs be sacrificed in the Holy Temple.
In an uprising against the ancient Greeks and this persecution of our religion and our lives, the Maccabees, led by Mattathias and his son Judah, triumphed and the Temple was rededicated. There were then, as there are today, miracles that happened – unexplained things that worked one way when they couldn’t possibly. A small army defeats a much larger one in battles that contradict all laws of war. A simplified version, but essentially, a small jug of oil – enough for only one day’s service was found in the Holy Temple – it would take 7 more days before more oil would be ready…with faith, the Jews lit the oil for the one day and it lasted for all the full 8 days until more was ready. And so today, tonight, we light the menorah.
Chanukah is about triumph, about dedication. It is about our reclaiming our land and living here when evil tried to remove us. It really is, always has been, and likely always will be, as very simple as that.
We are here in our land – we will not be removed. Not by the Ancient Greeks, not by the Ancient Romans. Not by the Ottomans, the British or the Palestinians. Not even by the Iranians, the UN, or Obama. The light of Chanukah that was kindled thousands of years ago and continues to burn bright. It was lit again tonight in my living room, in the windows of my neighbors, in the streets of my city and of Jerusalem. Everywhere, from house to house, the message is there. We live here, in the land of miracles and each day, there are miracles.
Four missiles were found in Lebanon today, before they were able to be fired at Israel. A car was targeted by Arab gunmen near Rechalim; no one was injured. Three firebombs were thrown at a Jewish village and a car north of Jerusalem – no injuries.
We live in a land of miracles, under the Great Protector, who watches over Israel.