Soon we will celebrate Chanukah, our joyous and treasured holiday commemorating the ancient and miraculous victory of the Maccabees over the tyrant Antiochus and his army of henchmen. It is the famed story of Judah the Maccabee, his brothers and his army of Jewish fighters who led a revolt that vanquished a massive Syrian Greek army and ended their rule over the Jewish people. This astonishing victory allowed the Maccabees to reclaim Jerusalem and rededicate the Second Temple. The ensuing miracle of finding a single flask of pure oil that was enough for only one night but burned for eight is even more miraculous. This tiny amount of oil illuminated the Temple’s Menorah for eight glorious nights bringing light into the Temple, to the Jewish People and to the world.
One cannot see light, but we are keenly aware of its presence as it allows us to see the world around us. Light shines as a ray of hope and brightens possibilities; it is a positive symbol of goodness and beauty. Throughout generations tyrants have risen to destroy us; to take away our light and shroud us in darkness. When we study history, we see generations of our people who faced relentless foes and impossible odds, yet our Judaism and our traditions survived. On October 7, 2023, we were cast into darkness again when more than 1400 of our brothers and sisters in Israel were annihilated and over 240 of our people taken hostage, but not even Hamas can quell the light that burns so brightly over our people.
In this current time with so much darkness upon us, rising anti-Semitism, and anti-Israel sentiment, we must remember the light that G-d put in every Jew. Chanukah reminds us of how bright that light can shine. May the miracle of Chanukah and the lights of our menorahs spark a fire that ignites us individually and as a community to remember who we are and proudly honor our heritage. May we unite together to bring more light into the world.
Renee Werbin is the President of SRI Travel and the Publisher and Co-Founder of Travelgirl Magazine.