Why is this Hanukkah different than all other Hanukkahs?
While many people around us think that Hanukkah is all about oil that should have only lasted for one day but lasted for eight, we know that there is much more to this holiday. It is a celebration of the Maccabee’s defeat of the Syrians. More than just a military victory, Hanukkah recognizes the miraculous efforts of our ancestors to keep Judaism alive in the face of growing Greek influence. Hanukkah is really about the miracle of Jewish survival and thriving throughout the millennia.
We now live at a time when we face threats as individual Jews and as a community that are unprecedented in this country. It seems that every day there is another news story about attacks on Jews or Jewish institutions; in the last few days we have seen a deadly shooting at a Kosher supermarket in New Jersey, an assault of a Jewish woman on a New York subway, vandalization of a synagogue in California, and the desecration of cemeteries and the American Jewish University.What should be our response? Throughout the centuries Jews have always been ready to move, to head to the next place that would take us in after our adopted homelands became too dangerous. Are we there yet? Is it time for us to pick up and leave? Or do we look to the Maccabees as an example and come together to battle the forces that would seek to destroy us?
We cannot wait any longer. On this Hanukkah, as a community we must confront the very real threats that exist. This year, it’s not just about the menorah, the latkes, and the jelly donuts; it is about what we will do to ensure a thriving Jewish future. May the Maccabees inspire us to fight for what is right; our very lives depend on it.