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Chanukah at the AZM

A Zionist Chanukah


Chanukah is a joyous time. It is also a time to keep in mind all that we have to be thankful for, and to reflect upon the many miracles, big and small, which we are fortunate enough to experience every day.

THIS FIRST NIGHT OF CHANUKAH, let us reflect on the immutable connection of American Jewry to Israel. Our candle reminds us that the Jewish People are One, and that Israel is central to Jewish life. As we remember the Maccabees who defended Jewish peoplehood, let us unite in celebration of the modern State of Israel, our national home.

ON THIS SECOND NIGHT, we reflect on the miracle of aliyah and the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948. Traditionally Chanukah recalls the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days and the rededication of the Temple. This year, let us recall the miracle of a century of aliyah, and the return of the Jewish People to our historic homeland.

AS WE LIGHT THE THIRD CANDLE, we consider how fostering Jewish, Zionist and Hebrew education and Jewish spiritual and cultural values help to preserve our Jewish identity. Antiochus sought to eradicate Jewish peoplehood by preventing the observance of religious practices. Zionism is an important force in the strengthening of Jewish identity and values. Our commitment to Hebrew language and literature, and Israeli culture and society enriches our lives.

ON THIS FOURTH NIGHT, we remember all the Israeli soldiers who are missing in action. Israel's young soldiers, modern-day Maccabees, defend the Jewish homeland, enabling Israel to build and sustain a flourishing society based on democratic values.

ON THIS FIFTH NIGHT, we salute the founders of the State of Israel. Today, Zionism is the spiritual link to Israel and its people, the mystical tie that nourishes Jews everywhere. It is a call to cultural nationalism that perpetuates the lessons of a shared past and hopes of a united future.

ON THE SIXTH NIGHT, we think of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who escaped persecution and now live in Israel. The opportunity to make aliyah and begin a new life in Israel has always been in the prayers of Jews. The establishment of the State of Israel has made it possible for these prayers to be answered.

OUR SEVENTH CANDLE is a blessing for the land of Israel. We must always remember that there is but one Earth, precious and fragile. A passage, nearly 2,000 years old, best expresses our thoughts:

When the Holy One, blessed be He, created the first man, he took him and warned him about all the trees of the Garden of Eden, saying: See my works, how I created for you. Beware lest you spoil and destroy My world, for if you will spoil it, there is no one to repair it after you. -- Kohellet Rabba 8,28

OUR EIGHTH AND FINAL CANDLE is lit for peace. Peace is in our hearts every day. Let us rededicate ourselves to a united Jewish community, to Israel, and to the hope of a true and lasting peace between Israeli and Arab, Jew and Gentile, and among all people of the world.

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