Who would have thought on that Black Saturday of October 7th that the hundreds of thousands of troops called up for reserve duty would still be fighting the forces of darkness on the festival of light?
As I stand this first night of Hanukkah next to Gaza singing together with my fellow IDF brothers-and-sisters-in-arms from all different ethnic and religious backgrounds the Al Hanissim (“for the miracles”) prayer of Hanukkah, I think of the significance of the words.
The few against the many…in those days and at this time.
I am wearing the most meaningful suit of clothes I have ever had the honor to wear, the IDF uniform, under starlit sky of the Negev desert. I am hearing modern Jewish fighters singing about ancient military victories against seemingly insurmountable odds ringing in my ears. At this profound moment, as I sail back over the seas of our history to the Hebrew warriors of the Hasmonean revolt, I understand what it meant to be, in the words of Yonatan Netanyahu, “a link in the chain of Jewish continuity.” As Chaim Herzog noted:
In Israel today, Hanukkah has become a holiday that inspires the modern nation, as it commemorates the ancient struggle for independence. Today’s Israelis see themselves as successors to the Maccabees; the few who won their freedom and independence.