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I’m in Israel in the IDF and Hannukah this year looks a lot like the first Hanukkah



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Hanukkah is upon us, and it’s usually a time for celebrating miracles and triumph.

And yet all I can seem to do right now is think of Abigail, a 4-year-old girl, finally released from Hamas after 50 days of captivity, yet who returned home an orphan. Hamas slaughtered both her mother and father in their barbaric attack on October 7.

I think of Liran, a young man whose twin brothers are also still held captive. Many hostages have been freed, yet Liran and his family anxiously await a reunion with his brothers. 

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The words of Liroa echo in my mind, as she pleads for the release of her daughter Noa so that perhaps she can see her just once more at home in Israel. You see, Liroa has brain cancer, and is unsure how many days she has left. 

This list of tragedies goes on and on. But Israel exists today as a result of miracles amidst tragedy. 

As a Jew, I can tell you we’re anxious for another miracle.

During this year’s festival of Hanukkah, the people of Israel find themselves in yet another familiar situation, facing the ongoing threat of extinction. This time, from Hamas. While Hanukkah is a time to celebrate the miraculous victory of the Maccabees over oppressive forces, today in Israel we yearn for another victory to ensure our safety and security in the face of a relentless adversary.

The story of this holiday reminds us of the resilience of the Jewish people in the face of adversity. It is a tale of hope and determination, where a small group of Maccabees stood up against the mighty Seleucid Empire, ultimately reclaiming the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The miracle oil that burned for eight days is a symbol of faith and the ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.

As Jews, we certainly believe in miracles, and that God always makes a way in the wilderness. Yet while we believe in miracles, we don’t rely on them. We realize we have a duty to help our fellow man, and that God has equipped us for action. We pray as if it all depends on God, but we work as if it all depends on us. 

Today, Israel’s fight against Hamas embodies this same spirit of resilience and determination. The people of Israel continue to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to their homeland, just as we did centuries ago. They endure the constant threat of rocket attacks from Gaza, which disrupt daily life, inflict fear, and have tragic consequences.

As we long for peace with every passing year, I think of the innocent civilians who always endure the violence and pay the price for our sovereignty. I think of the small business owners and shopkeepers who line the streets of Jerusalem or the shores of Galilee and depend on the tourism of those making a pilgrimage here to sustain their livelihood. They yearn for more peaceful times. They want to provide for their families and gather around the dinner table in peace. It’s not too much to ask. 

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Israel’s perpetual quest for peace should not be overlooked. Don’t grow numb to the news you read out of the Holy Land on a daily basis. Conflict and turmoil must not be an acceptable norm. Israelis are desperate for a resolution to the conflict, one that guarantees their security while allowing Palestinians to live in dignity and freedom. 

Make no mistake, the parallels between Hanukkah and the ongoing struggle for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East are evident – both require determination, faith, and hope for a brighter future. In the face of the ongoing threat from Hamas, Israel’s present situation is a modern-day Hanukkah miracle in the making. 

As we celebrate this holiday, remember those of us in Israel longing for a lasting peace in the Middle East. Remember the Jewish people threatened in your own neighborhood or on your own campus too. Commit to being a part of the solution today, instead of adding to the tension and vitriol. 

When others attack us, you can defend us. When others scream at us, you can pray for us. When others boycott us, you can support us

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I’m urging my friends in America – of any faith or none – to remember us at this time of year. Remember our history. Remember our suffering. Remember our desire for peace.

Perhaps in doing so you’ll become a small part of the miracle we await. Peace in Israel may take a miracle, but there is plenty we can all do in the meantime.



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