Israel: a Candle of Light in a Dark World
By Justin Amler
Over two thousand years ago, a small bunch of Jewish rebels rose up against an oppressive regime led by Antiochus who wanted to deny them their freedom and their identity, forcing them to worship false gods and idols. And so they fought against odds that seems insurmountable. They fought against a military power they could not match. They fought against a blackness that darkened their world. And yet... they won.
And when they wanted to rededicate their temple there was only enough oil for one night. So they lit the oil and let it burn eager to enjoy whatever time they could from it. And then something happened. A miracle. For the oil that should have lasted one night lasted eight.
And the darkness that was so overwhelming, so oppressive, so black was banished, thrown out, dispelled by the light of this single jar of oil.
Such is the story of Hanukkah - a holiday that allows us to believe in miracles. A holiday that allows us to believe in freedom. A holiday that allows us to believe that sometimes something so small can change the world.
Jews have been around for almost four thousand years and during that time we have faced every calamity that can be faced. We've faced expulsion. We've faced annihilation. We've faced catastrophes. We've faced disaster. And yet we're still here when history dictates that we shouldn't be. We still exist when the law of human history says we shouldn't. We're still here when our many oppressors have long since been dispelled to the dustbin of history.
The lesson that we learn from Hanukkah is that we should never give up on ourselves and never stop believing in the things that make us who we are even if, at times, it seems impossible, because miracles are not part of some Jewish mythology, but are instead part of Jewish history. And we also learn that freedom is not given - it's something we have to fight for - something we have fought for throughout our existence. Without fighting for that freedom, there wouldn't be an Israel today.
Israel has been a single candle of light in a world that is far too dark. It's a light that makes a difference in so many ways to so many people across so many places.
And to those who say the various UN resolutions against Israel are only against 'settlements' should be reminded that this small band of Jewish rebels who fought for our freedom all that time so long ago were led by the Maccabees, a family from the Judean hills - an area that the UN says is occupied and does not belong to the Jews. The epicenter of this battle was in Jerusalem, a place that some people claim isn't part of Israel. And the miracle of Hanukkah where the jar of oil burnt for 8 days happened in the Jewish Temple - a place that our 'Palestinian peace partners' say was never there.
So for the next two thousand years, we'll continue to celebrate it, for our identity will not be erased by resolutions, committees, or presidents.
Chag Sameach everyone - may all our lights shine bright.