Chanukah and Christmas

In the last few weeks, we have all witnessed much violence in the Middle East and in other parts of the world. As you have seen on this Web site, we in the ICCJ have been deeply concerned about the strengthening of antisemitic elements within Hungarian society. But in the midst of all this activity, let’s not forget that we are also in the Christian season of Advent, leading up to the joyous festival of Christmas, and that next week, Jews throughout the world will celebrate Chanukah.

Apparently, the Rabbis of the Mishnah and the Talmud wanted to downplay the centrality of the military victories as the core of the Chanukah festival. That is probably why they mandated as the prophetic reading, the Haftarah, for the Shabbat of Chanukah (the first, if there are two,) a passage that includes the following words of Zechariah (4:6): "Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts."

Some people say that the true miracle of Chanukah is not that the oil burned for 8 days, but that the Jews had enough hope and faith to light it to begin with, trusting that it could last. The messages of hope, faith, trusting in God and trying to live by God’s spirit --these messages can guide all of us in our lives. I wish happy and healthy festivals to all.

Debbie Weissman, Jerusalem