Last weekend, we hosted a small Hanukkah gathering. Like last year, my parents came to town, along with our eldest and his girlfriend. We had a nice mix of people, both family and friends. We even had a fire outside, as a winter front blew in that evening.
Prior to the party, I felt just telling the story of Hanukkah, saying blessings, and singing songs was insufficient. I came across a post by Gabriel Groisman that echoed my sentiments. I felt conveying the holiday in light of the events of 07-OCT in Israel, the war, and global antisemitism was important. With a bit of input, below is what I read as we gathered around to light candles.
2000 years ago, in the second century BCE, the holy land was ruled by the Seleucids, Syrian Greeks, heirs to the empire of Alexander the Great. They tried to force the people of Israel to accept Greek culture, wiping out Jewish life. The Maccabees stood up and fought them, and regained sovereignty over the land of Israel.
Today, it is not Antiochus, but Hamas and other Islamists who now threaten to destroy the Jewish people. On October 7th, they brutally tortured and massacred over 1400 Israelis, some dismembered and burnt beyond recognition, thousands injured, women and girls raped, over 200 taken hostage. Like the story of Hanukkah, the Jewish people in the land of Israel will persevere thanks to its modern day Maccabees – the IDF.
The challenge is there are many Hamas supporters in the West. We see an increase in antisemitic harassment and rhetoric today. Even public Hanukkah lighting ceremonies have been cancelled. Even when events look bleak, we look forward to the victory against the terrorists which is sure to come. So, we carry-on and persevere in the spirit of Hanukkah knowing that Israel and all its citizens will continue to thrive, Jews, Muslims and Christians, together.
We are all Maccabees today. Happy Hanukkah!
My parents are on their way home now. We spent many mornings and evenings talking about Israel and global antisemitism. Sadly, there is a plethora of examples and news. We do not know what 2024 has in-store for us . For now I am thankful for friends and family, especially non-Jewish ones who do not wear rose colored glasses. My hope for 2024 is more Progressive Democrats start to recognize the moral rot in their alliance with Islamists. Sadly politicians like Representative Ritchie Torres and Senator John Fetterman seem to be the exception rather than the rule.