The world is in shambles, the UN is useless, thousands of innocents are being slaughtered in Syria, others are being run down in Berlin, but no matter what’s going on in the world, every year on כ”ה כסלו you’ll find us lighting our menorahs and celebrating the miracles that have brought us to this point. Whether in Germany in 1942 or in Jerusalem 2016, we are living miracles every single day. If history is any indication, we’ll be lighting our menorahs again in exactly one year from today.

It doesn’t really matter what the UN declares. It doesn’t really matter whether or not a President Trump will be good for Jews. It doesn’t really matter if our enemies become our allies and our allies become our enemies or we’re left with no allies at all. Of course we must stand up for ourselves and protect ourselves but all that really matters is that our existence as a nation is the greatest miracle of all.

Let these Chanukah flames stand in defiance of the darkness that surrounds us. May we all have a lighter and brighter year.

This is a short poem I wrote and read aloud in class, but oh how appropriate it is for just this moment.

חג שמח

A combination of fate and miracles delivered me here today

I should not be here telling my story

I should not exist at all

Conceived by persecution and baseless hatred

Bore by a womb of hopes that have faded

My grandparents standing in the freezing cold naked

Waiting to be gassed

Burned

Turned to dust

By a man with a kampf and a final solution

Just one man in an incessant list of men

And so those who lived said never again

But they should not have been murdered

A combination of fate and miracles delivered them there that day

They should not have existed at all

Banished from Morocco

Massacred in Ukraine

Expelled from Russia

Mass forced conversions in Yemen

Ordered to leave Vienna

Decrees in Frances to leave or die

As if that was a choice

No one should have to make that choice

Forbidden to print our scriptures

Forbidden to practice our religion

Forbidden to believe

Forbidden to be

Conceived by persecution and baseless hatred

Bore by a womb of hopes that have faded

Marranos practicing their beliefs in the basement

For fear of being caught

And converted

Or killed

The Spanish Inquisition burned our texts

Chipped away at our humanity

Cut off the beards of our men

New Jewish laws had to be written

Because a return to Judaism after conversion would have otherwise been forbidden

But we wanted them back

But they should not have been converted and they should not have been killed

A combination of fate and miracles delivered them there that day

They should not have existed at all

Blood libels in Poland

Murder in Prague

Brussels Massacre

Strasburg Massacre

600 Jews burned at the stake in Switzerland

The worst pogroms in history

Forced to wear a yellow badge

Not in 1942, in 1321!

600 years apart

Anti-Semitism remains steadfast

Conceived by persecution and baseless hatred

Bore by a womb of hopes that have faded

Ancestors kicked out of Judea

The land of which they were native

Stripped the land of its name

To suppress its Jewish connection

Nearly 600,000 dead

An entire damn collection

of souls and spirits

of bodies and lives

of Jews who wanted to live

of Jews who should not have died

But they should not have been expelled and they should not have been killed

A combination of fate and miracles delivered them there that day

They should not have existed at all

Murder by mob in Egypt

Accused of ritual slaughter in Munich

Massacres in Rome

Forced conversions in Marrakesh

600 Jews decapitated in Medina

They tried to persecute us – so we celebrate Chanukah

They tried to kill us – so we celebrate Purim

They enslaved us but God saved us – so we celebrate Passover

Conceived by persecution and baseless hatred

Bore by a womb of hopes that have faded

But no matter how many times we have been degraded

Somehow, we have still made it

Surviving two thousand years of exile and persecution

Is nothing short of a miracle

But all of those who were expelled or converted or killed

Should not have existed at all

So I exist for them

Who could have dreamed that anti-Semitism

Would simply transform into anti-Zionism

Who could have foreseen that Jews who had been vilified for their homelessness

Would now be vilified for their homeland

When the world is on the side of a people

Who democratically elect a man who wrote his thesis in Holocaust denial

As president of Fatah

A terrorist organization

Does no one have any moral obligations?

Anti-Semitism is alive and well

It has just taken the face of BDS

And of the United Nations

Through every boycott, every sanction, and every condemnation

But in the face of all of this

I continue living and practicing

Because existence like mine cannot be an accident