For the miracles, and for the dedication, and the heroics, and the great deeds, and the victories which You did for our forefathers in those days, at this time.
This is the essence of Hanukah.
Not the presents, which only exist because the holiday falls close the Xmas.
Not the draydle which comes from a Middle Ages, German game of chance.
Not the oil lasting eight days, which was a fable meant to take the focus away from celebrating a war of revolt that could antagonize the Romans.
It is remembering what God did for His Jews.
Will this be the message Mel Gibson (may his name be blotted from memory) conveys in his alleged forthcoming movie about Judah Maccabee?
Somehow I feel that it’s a way for Gibson to make the Jews look bad just by telling the truth.
The Maccabees were religious intolerants who not only fought the imperial power of Selucid Greeks but also were determined to annihilate the assimilated Jews of Judea. Judah would spin in his grave if he saw how people today celebrate the holiday.
They fought a civil war for thirty years, combined the priesthood with the monarchy, in violation of ancient separation of “church” and state.(And you thought Thomas Jefferson invented that one.)
And ultimately gave rise to a regime so corrupt that Rome needed to intervene to maintain order.
But if it weren’t for them, would Judaism have survived?
Like it or not, when the tides of history wash over the Jewish people, it is the religious Jews who cling to the rocks, and become the phoenix to rise from the ashes, keeping Judaism alive.
They remember everyday, what God does for His Jews. And pray He doesn’t forget them.
That is what the focus of Hanukah should be for anyone who considers themselves a Jew.
Not the presents, not competing with Christmas, not Judah Maccabee, not the latkes and the chocolate gelt or the jelly donuts.
Okay, maybe the latkes and the gelt.
And Mel, if you need to make a violent and bloody sword and sandals movie about Jews, think about Bar Kochba.
Or better yet, Abba Kovner, or the Warsaw ghetto uprising, or the Yom Kippur War.
Or better still ver geharget und gay in der erd, shaygitz drek.
A freilich Chanuka tzu alle.