From Israel: “Looking Towards the Light!!”

Chanukah begins tonight, and we light our first candle.  

Credit: Kosher.com

Chanukah commemorates rededication of the Temple during the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid (Greek) Empire in the Second Century BCE. The revolt was begun by the priest Mattathias and later carried on by his third son, Judah Maccabee.

It imparts important messages regarding values and commitment.

There is a tendency today to universalize this holiday – known as the Festival of Lights – and to speak only in terms of generalized concepts of religious freedom.  

But this is a Jewish story.  The Maccabees fought for years against great odds; they refused to be swallowed up by Hellenistic values, which are in significant ways the antithesis of Jewish values. They did battle not only with the Seleucids – who controlled Judea and Jerusalem, and defiled the Temple – but also with the Jews who were willing to become Hellenized, who indeed were eager to be assimilated into that alien Hellenistic culture.  Without the actions of the Maccabees, Judaism would have been diluted, and lost.


Here in Israel, we are on the cusp of finally establishing a new government, and I will undoubtedly have a great deal to say about this in days ahead.  What I suggest here is that in broad terms there is a parallel with the Chanukah story.

What I see is that, governed by a progressive left-wing coalition, Israel was losing her way. The new government, decried by some on the left, will set Israel back on the right path. A path that says Jewish values matter and this is a Jewish state. A path that makes it clear that the Land is ours and that there is no place for anti-Zionists in the government (progressives would refer to this in positive terms as inclusivity and embracing diversity).

One need not agree with every single item on the agenda of the new government to understand that it is taking the restorative path.  And I note here – as I have before – that alarmists within the left-wing have vastly exaggerated some of what the new coalition-in-the-making proposes.


There is another side to Chanukah: the story of the miracle of the oil, when only one cruse of undefiled oil, enough for one day, was found in the Temple, and yet it burned for eight days in the Menorah.  

Credit: His Highest Harmony

And here I would suggest – a familiar theme of mine – that Israel’s existence as a sovereign Jewish state in the 21st century is a miracle.  One for which we should be grateful not just at Chanukah time, but every day.  


I begin my celebration of Chanukah with anticipation that I will soon be celebrating our new government as well.  I hope and trust that many of you will be joining me.

To all celebrating Chanukah, I wish a Chag Sameach!!


After we light our candles, we sing al hanissim (for the miracles).  We light the candles in remembrance of what the Almighty has done for us:

For the miracles,​ for the redemption​, for the mighty deeds and saving acts, wrought by you, as well as for the wars which you waged for our fathers in days of old, at this season.

Let us be mindful, and rejoice.



© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.