I love Hanukkah, particularly in New York City. The days are short and by late afternoon the city glows with Christmas lights, menorahs, and enticing shop windows with extravagant displays. I love crispy potato fritters (latkes) with apple sauce and exchange of presents with my kids and grandchildren. It is a happy holiday with a serious side.
The word Hanukah means “rededication “and celebrates Jewish heroes who rededicated themselves to faith and principles in spite of a wicked king and faithless coreligionists who worshipped Hellenist idols.
In 168 BCE King Antiochus oppressed the Palestinian Jews. He seized and profaned the First Temple in Judea by turning it into a shrine for the worship of Zeus. He forbid recitations of the Torah and observance of Jewish rituals and demanded that Jews bow to idols and forced them to eat proscribed foods. Many frightened and acquiescent Jews adapted to the terms in a false pursuit of peace and acceptance.
Mattathias, a Jewish priest who rejected the Hellenists’ demands was joined by his son Judah Maccabee who led the rebellion against Antiochus the Greek-Syrian monarch.
After a war that lasted close to three years the Maccabees, as they were known, prevailed and reclaimed the Holy Temple. They removed all pagan and Hellenist objects but found only enough oil to light the temple for a single day.A miracle occurred and the scant amount of oil burned for eight days and hence the eight day celebration and lighting of eight candles. Jews returned to their ancient faith and rededicated themselves to the Torah and their ancient rituals.
There is a second miracle. The Babylonians, the Hellenists, the Hittites, the Philistines, and empires that tormented the Jews are long gone, and, in spite of the millennia of oppression, dislocation, forced conversions and genocide Jews have survived…small in numbers but mighty in faith and resolve.
Furthermore, after centuries of misunderstandings and prejudice, Israel’s staunchest supporters are religious Christians who demonstrate this with political support and frequent visits to Jerusalem, Israel’s undivided capital, where Christmas and Easter are observed with the utmost respect and appreciation of their Jewish hosts.
But, while we enjoy the blessings of freedom in many parts of the world, in the Islamic world the holiday is forbidden and Jews are mistreated and oppressed. And, this faith driven racism finds welcome and participation in Western nations that were formerly hospitable to their Jewish populations.
In Israel where the Maccabees won their hard fought war, patrimony and faith are being abandoned in search of a delusional accommodation with enemies bent on erasing Israel. Even the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is being claimed by the same Moslem forces that ransacked and desecrated all non Moslem holy sites in Jerusalem from 1948 until 1967.
Hebron, the cradle of our faith has been turned over to the Arabs; Jewish shrines are routinely defaced throughout the West Bank; patriotic residents of ancient Judea and Samaria are now harassed by the local Arabs while Israeli politicians and police turn a blind eye. Jewish towns and cities are being evacuated to make room for Jihadists whose intentions have been made very clear by their leaders and their recent history in Gaza.
The Hellenists of our day are the pacifists and the dhimmis and the so-called liberals who worship the false and deadly idol named appeasement and every liberal fad and utopian cult. Mindless of Islam’s historic rampage against all “infidels” they indulge in interfaith blather with the purveyors of Jew hatred.They are obsessed with retrofitting the American constitution to protect the rights of criminals and racists while they blatantly dismiss the Ten Commandments which inspired the founding fathers and our constitution.
They buy into the propaganda which is fueled in large part by the oil producing Arab nations that hold the Western nations hostage. What a dour assessment on what should be a happy holiday? Reality bites.
But, here is a third miracle also about oil.
Americans are finally determined to become energy independent, and vast resources of domestic gas and oil are tapped for exploration, drilling and development. This will restore our economy and our pre-eminence in the world. As late as December 5, 2011 there have been announcements that Israel has discovered vast resources in gas and oil this year. The low-end estimate is 49.7 million barrels of oil and the high-end estimate is 343.5 million barrels. That should keep Israel’s lights burning.
Miracles never cease to amaze. Happy Hanukkah to all.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Ruth S. King is a freelance writer who writes a monthly column in OUTPOST, the publication of Americans for a Safe Israel.