Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hanukkah lights

Every time around the Holidays I get a great deal of questions about what the meaning of Hanukkah (or spelled Chanukah) is from many of my friends.  I get this more often as my Christian friends want to know about their own history, since our faiths are intertwined.

The basic story is such:
The Greeks had occupied the ancient homeland of the Jews, which stretched far beyond the current day borders of Israel.  But the Jews did not go peacefully into the night.  Hanukkah came about because the Jewish people at the time, pushed off their oppressors.  They fought.

And while the temple was purified, it was a miracle at all that the Jews could find any lighting oil to restore their ancient traditions.  But they did find it, when it seemed unlikely.  And instead of burning for just one day, it burned for eight.  So, we remember the event by lighting candles for 8 days, one more each night, to remember.

And remember we do, thousands of years later.

We also remembered it during the Roman occupation, a couple centuries afterwards.

Somehow, in the years long after the destruction of the 2nd Temple, over the centuries, we forgot.  We decided to adapt into cultures, try to prove that we could be great nationals too.  We had success in Spain, often referred to as the Golden age of Judiasm, but were cast out in 1492. It worked elsewhere, in France, and even Germany for a time.

But that ended in disaster.  We were helpless, rounded up and slaughtered.  And not just in Germany, but for any of those unfortunately enough to survive the Holocaust, only to be left in Soviet occupied Eastern Europe.

My family had already immigrated to America by that time. My Grandmother, she was a Naval nurse, during the second world war.  My grandfather was a Navy pilot and engineer.  My family, fought for America.

The lesson in this is we can't let our guard down.  We can't be left unprepared.

And yet, some Jews, think it's a great idea to disarm their own people.  They cry for "#gunsense," when gunsense has only ever lead to genocide.  As Jews, we should know better.

So when I'm asked what is the meaning of Hanukkah, I reply that it's to remind ourselves that we must always be vigilant.  Yes, the lights are wonderful, and we should remember always that we should bring love, joy and Godliness into the world, but we should always be aware of what's going on.  To be ignorant of the world, to be ignorant of possibilities of evil men and women, is to write our own obituaries.

Don't be a fool - be prepared to protect you and yours.