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About Ancient Solution to a Modern Problem
The story of Hanukkah is about a tiny Jewish army that, against all odds, was able to overcome an enemy far greater in size and enable the survival of a Jewish state. Today, surrounded by enemies that are continuously attempting to destroy the tiny State of Israel, we should consider the lessons learned from the Maccabees.
The Jews in the story of Hanukkah lived semi-autonomously, paying taxes to the local Assyrian-Greek Governor, but governing themselves. The story of Hanukkah began when a new Greek governor took control and changed the existing policy for the Jews. The new policy was an attempt to turn all the Jews into Greeks, and in effect, destroy the Jewish culture by outlawing Jewish worship, practice, and anything uniquely Jewish. The last straw was when the governor turned the Jewish temple into a temple to pagan Greek gods. In response, Judah Maccabee, a member of the family of Jewish priests, raised a small army. Despite being outnumbered and terribly equipped, the Jews succeeded in beating their enemies and ensuring the continuity of their way of life.
Today we celebrate this victory with the holiday of Hanukkah. This story serves as a model of Jewish pride and represents the resolve to stand up for Judaism held by countless generations of Jews facing enemies seeking to destroy them. Previous generations have taken this lesson to heart, and in the spirit of the Maccabees, made a fighting effort to maintain Judaism despite many foreign pressures. The story of the early Zionists can be looked at as a more modern day Hanukkah story.
The late nineteenth century was not a very good time to for the Jews of Europe. Jews were either assimilating to the point that they had lost all Jewish identity or they were being persecuted for remaining faithful to their religion and culture. Despite the magnitude of this problem, a small group of idealistic Jews set out to create a Jewish State in the ancestral homeland, which would ensure protection for Jews against persecution and serve as a cultural center for world Jewry. Today we call these people the Zionists. Against all odds and many enemies-just like the Jews in the story of Hanukah-the early Zionists were able to turn a tiny, desolate piece of land into a Jewish country with a thriving economy and vibrant culture.
Throughout much of Jewish history, the survival of Jews and Judaism has been threatened. Heroes like the Maccabbees and the early Zionists have taught us that in order for Judaism to endure, Jews need to take action to guarantee its survival. Today, when the terrorists of the world are trying not only to destroy the Jewish State but all of Western culture, what are YOU going to do to stand up for Freedom? And what battles are YOU prepared to fight to ensure a brighter future for the entire world?