One Menorah’s Message

I got up early to drive Shmulik to the bus station; later I’m driving to the airport to pick up Lauren and Elie (and Aliza who had an overnight with her grandparents). My older daughter is at home with her baby; her husband enjoying this last day of Hanuka with his family before he returns to the army.

Elie is likely sleeping on the plane – or at least I hope he is. Shmulik is on a bus heading towards the base. Davidi is already at the course he is taking to become a volunteer on the ambulance, as his brothers and his older sister did before him. He has spent days and evenings of his entire vacation taking this course.

And I have 10 minutes before I’m going to force myself away from social media and blogs and get to work. I love writing for so many reasons and never have enough time to write for me, on what I want. I’m formatting one client’s document (or at least checking over the work of one of my employees) and I’m finishing up writing and editing an amazing book for another client and I don’t have a minute free next week…and it’s only Wednesday.

Last week, I wrote about why I love Israel and got some great comments. I could write more about that…tons more and never be done. I know that people prefer the personal stories to the politics. I get that and I try. Okay, I don’t succeed often enough, but I try. But this is my post…and I want to write.

I’m torn between writing of the missile that slammed into Israel this morning, and a neighbor’s menorah. I want to express my anger that Palestinians report the news in nefarious ways. A man was killed and others injured in a strike by the Israeli air force. This is truth and both sides admit it. The man was part of a terrorist cell about to launch an attack on Israel’s border; the others were the rest of his team. One Gazan reports that a 13-year-old boy was injured; another says a boy the same age was killed. If true, one wonders what idiot took a boy that age on a terrorist mission and why not one of the Gazans reported what this terrorist cell was doing when they were thankfully stopped.

And I want to write about my neighbor’s menorah. It is huge. He placed it on his rooftop for all to see and left a ladder – which he uses to climb up to “light” each candle every night. The menorah is an electric one and stands at least three meters in height (without counting the height of his roof). It does not fulfill the requirements for lighting according to Jewish law, but it certainly covers the issue of publicizing the miracle of Hanuka.

Two or three days ago, a wonderful winter storm brought winds and rain to the Jerusalem area. The menorah blew down. It was more sticks than substance, never meant to withstand more than a gentle breeze and it blew to the ground, taking the ladder with it. This morning as I drove past the neighbor’s house, the menorah was again standing tall on the roof with all arms of the candelabra brightly lit against the early morning sky to mark this final day of the holiday.

That’s Israel, I thought to myself. You can knock us down (or you can try) and we’ll shake ourselves off and stand tall again. We were given the task of being a light unto the nations, and we are. Our technical innovations have changed the world, again and again – computers, medicine, electronic devices. Our soldiers and doctors and nurses fly around the world, quietly and modestly and save lives. A massive earthquake hit Russia in the middle of last night. We don’t even know if there are injuries, but a team was ordered to be prepared.

Israel – on my neighbor’s roof and before my eyes. Across the street, four Israelis are standing smoking and chatting before the work day, people are rushing down the street, parking their cars and perhaps wondering if they can take off a bit early on this last day of Hanuka. A man hurries past while talking on his cellphone; a horn honks in the distance and three of the people have now gone inside.

Elie and Lauren are on a plane flying home – to a land like no other. As they return, as we all have returned, I know the neighbor will soon put the menorah away. But it will be here next year to shine and send out  its message. The menorah, Israelis, and Israel.

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