Tonight we light the first candle in the eight day festival of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights.
The holiday is marked by two miracles:
The miracle of the oil burning in the menorah in the re-dedicated Temple — enough for one day, it burned for eight.
And the miracle of the ability of traditionally observant Jews at that time — roughly 164 BCE — to cleanse and re-dedicate the Temple. It had been defiled by Antiochus IV (king of the Seleucid Empire), who had sacrificed pigs there in worship of Zeus. This is the victory of the Maccabees, Judah and his brothers, sons of the priest Mattathias, over the Greeks. We celebrate a revolt against Hellenization that marked our right to sustain the Jewish practices that had been banned by the Greeks.
It is appropriate to broadcast the miracle of this holiday, and thus we light our lights in a window, where they can be seen, or outside.
After we light the candles, we sing, al ha-nissim v’al ha-nifla’ot v’al ha-tshu’ot. For the miracles and the wonders and the salvation…for these we light our candles.
What better than that we Jews should recognize the miracles and the wonders and the salvation that are ours today: that we have been sustained to this day, have freedom fully to be Jews, and have been returned to our ancient homeland. What better than that we should honor that freedom by being fully Jews, and devoting ourselves with clarity to our right to the land.
In honor of Chanukah, I will pass on all news today, and instead celebrate by offering you a choice of Chanukah videos.
To all those readers who will be lighting their Chanukah lights tonight, I wish a Chanukah Sameach — a joyous holiday filled with light and hope.
A sweet version of al ha-nissim:
A year old, but still fun. A Nefesh B’Nefesh Chanukah Flash Mob on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem. (Nefesh B’Nefesh — literally “soul by soul” — is the amazing group that is promoting and facilitating aliyah.)
Something different, and very lovely — in honor of Chanukah (Lich’vod Chanukah) from Bialik.
We have dreidels for Chanukah.
And potato latkes or sufganiot (donuts) — the main thing is that they are cooked in oil. Me? I take latkes, hot and crispy, with salt.
Whatever your tradition: Enjoy!
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.