December 15th, when you might be reading this story is the third day of the Jewish Holiday, Hanukkah. It is known as “The festival of lights”, and commemorates miraculous events that happened in the year 165 BCE. One of the miracles happened when a small group of Jewish insurgents led by Judah Maccabee revolted against the Syrian occupation of the Holy Land, who turned to impose the forced Hellenization of the Jews. Miraculously, they were able to overcome several Syrian armies, to free Jerusalem and to found an independent Jewish State. They cleaned the Temple from idols that were being used for worship, and in the process of rededicating it; they rekindled the seven-branched menorah light. There was a problem though; in order to do that, there was a need to have pure oil, and only day’s worth of such oil was found. To everyone’s surprise, another miracle happened, and the oil lasted for eight days. The independence of the area lasted until 63 BCE, when it was conquered by Rome. The Romans continued to use the name Judea for their new province and they named the northern region Galilee. For the next two thousand years, the area would be occupied by many different people. During which time it would be commonly called “Palestine” (named after the Jewish enemies in the Torah) in both the English and Arabic languages. In the 20th century, the name was used by the British to refer to Mandatory Palestine. In 1926, another miracle occurred, when the British Government issued the Balfour Declaration announcing, “His Majesty’s Government view will favour the establishment in Palestine of national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.” On May 15, 1948 there was yet another miracle. The British mandate was terminated and the State of Israel was founded. Several hours later, Iraq and the neighboring Arab states, Egypt, Jordan (Transjordan) and Syria invaded the newborn state, and immediately attacked the Jewish settlements.
The young country of Israel, became home for many Jews who survived the Holocaust, was able to hold on. During the forthcoming years it was attacked again and again by much more powerful enemies. Then miracles continued when during the Six-Day War in June 1967 in six days Israel defeated armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria and finally liberated Jerusalem from Jordan.
The miracles did not stop. A small country with a total population of about 8.5 million, out of which the Jewish share is about 75%, became the world center for the technological developments. Former foes, Egypt and Jordan, established diplomatic relationships with Israel. Israel is still surrounded by enemies who seek its destruction. It will take another miracle to find a two-state solution with the Palestinians, who do not acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.
During Bill Clinton’s Presidency, the 104th Congress passed a public law of the United States, known as the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. It was passed for the purpose of initiating and funding the relocation of the Embassy of the United States in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, by May 31, 1999.
It took twenty-two years for President Donald Trump to implement this Act last week.
It is a general assumption that miracles appeared only in the Torah and other religious writings.
But how can you explain that over the last 2182 years, when the Jewish people continue to light eight lights year after year since 165 BCE, if not as a miracle?
P.S. To experience the modern miracle, on Tuesday evening, our daughter Alona and I joined a crowd of spectators who came to Union Square to witness lighting the first light on the publicly displayed light holder, called a hanukiyah. The four images attest to the miracle.
In 1975, San Francisco was the first City outside of Israel to celebrate Hanukkah in a public square. Since then, many thousands of hanukiyot are lit in public areas all over the world. Perhaps this is what the prophet Isaiah meant when he proclaimed “And into your light, nations shall walk, and kings unto the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:3)
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