Archives for November 2010

Chanukah: Honoring Zionist Women

HONORING WOMEN OF ZIONISM

As we gather with our friends and family to light the Chanukah candles and our homes fill with light, please take a moment to reflect upon the essential and uncompromising contributions of women who are the Lights of Jewish history, the Zionist movement and the State Israel.

The word Zionism has many meanings and faces. Since Israel’s establishment, Zionism continues to contribute to the betterment of the world as a whole. This Chanukah, we honor women whose achievements have made everlasting impacts on Israel and the world. We dedicate the following Zionist blessings to these women who will always be considered lights unto the nations.

For each night of Chanukah, we offer an additional Zionist blessing to be recited before or after the traditional blessing. The blessings are dedicated to the women who embody Zionist values and their life accomplishments.

We encourage you to broaden your knowledge and read more about these inspiring women.  To assist you, we have created a linked page with a brief bio of each highlighted woman and have provided additional sources offering more information.

First night:
As we light the first Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the role of women in Jewish and Zionist leadership, an inspiring and prominent role where women, since the days of Devorah the prophetess, have led the Jewish people. Tonight we dedicate our blessing to Golda Meir who was an outstanding figure in the founding generation of the Zionist movement  Golda served as the Prime Minister of Israel from 1969-1974.

Second Night:
As we light the second Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the unique contribution of women in the field of social justice, Tikkun Olam and strengthening Israel as a Jewish and Democratic state, a field where women played an invaluable part throughout Jewish history. Tonight we dedicate our blessing to Dorit Beinisch, the first woman appointed as Israel’s Chief Justice, who, throughout her life and especially during her tenure in her current position as President of Israel’s Supreme Court, fights the battle of equality for those considered weak and different in Israeli society, thereby strengthening the character of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic state.

Third Night:
As we light the third Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the unique contribution of women in the various fields of culture in Israel. Since the days of Miriam the Prophetess until today, women built, promoted, educated and contributed to the creation of Israeli culture, and are the backbone of the dance, theater, art, and film industries, as well as others.  Tonight we dedicate our blessing to Baroness Bethsabee de Rothschild in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Israeli dance by establishing the Bat-Sheva Dance Company.  Today, the dance troupe performs on world renowned stages. For this, the Baroness was awarded the Israel Prize for her unique contribution to Israel’s Society.

Fourth Night:
As we light the fourth Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the unique contribution of women to the revival and development of the Hebrew language. Throughout history, the Hebrew language has been central to the lives of Jewish women. In the time of the revival of the Hebrew language, women continued to nurture and promote it. Tonight we will dedicate our blessing to Rachel the Poet, one of Israel’s national poets. Throughout her life, she combined living as a pioneer on a Kibbutz in the Galilee, with writing Hebrew poetry which describes the magical landscape of the land of Israel.  Even today, Rachel’s poems are still considered to be  some of the most popular works in Israeli poetry.

Fifth Night:
As we light the fifth Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the role of women in the field of Aliyah, one of the core missions of the Zionist enterprise. Since the days of the first female pioneers and through the women volunteers in Israel’s absorption centers today, the warm hearts of women have encouraged and helped many new Olim overcome the  challenges they face when moving to a new country.  Tonight we  dedicate our blessing to Recha Frier, the founder of Aliyaht Hano’ar (The Youth Aliyah organization). This project has helped many thousands of Olim throughout the years of the Zionist movement with their absorption in the land of Israel. For this, Recha  was awarded the Israel Prize for her unique contribution to Israel’s society.

Sixth Night:
As we light the sixth Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the unique contribution of women in the fields of science and technology, fields where women have contributed to Israel’s development and strengthened Israel’s position as one of the world’s leading countries in these industries. Tonight we dedicate our blessing to Ada Yonath, one of the world’s foremost researchers in the in the field of Chemistry. Yonath was the first Israeli woman to win the Nobel Prize.  Through her accomplishments, she inspires young female Israeli researchers to continue their important research in the many areas of science and technology.

Seventh Night:
As we light the seventh Chanukah candle, let us reflect upon the role of women in the field of medicine, a field where, throughout Jewish and Zionist history, women worked tirelessly to improve and save lives of many. Tonight we dedicate our blessing to Henrietta Szold, the founder of  the Women’s Zionist Organization “Hadassah”. Upon Henrietta’s vision, this organization continues to build hospitals and medical centers throughout Israel, and provides top quality medical care to any person regardless of religion, race and gender affiliation. This year, we celebrate a hundred and fifty years since Henrietta’s birth.

Eighth Night:
As we light the eighth Chanukah candle, we dedicate this blessing for shalom, peace and a better future for the world, the Jewish people and the State of Israel. As we have learned, women have always been present and were often recognized for their contributions to Jewish history, the Zionist enterprise, and the State of Israel.  Let’s join together in this  blessing and hope that this important role played by women will continue to illuminate the Jewish future for peace and the continuation of the successful existence of the State of Israel.