Saturday, December 12, 2009

Religious and Secular, We are the Maccabees

Religious and Secular, We are the Maccabees

By Naomi Ragen

Every single Jew living in the land of Israel is a modern day Maccabee. Every Jew who has dared to wrench this re-born homeland from a callous world that would deny us Jews our birthright, while championing the birthrights of every other native people in the world --Tibetans, and Palestinians, and South African Blacks-- is a Maccabee. Every Jew sitting in Israel, surrounded by the overwhelming power and numbers and evil designs of the hostile Moslem world, is a Maccabee. With every candle we light - whether we are religious or secular - we celebrate those things that hold us together as a nation: our history and our culture and our faith. We celebrate that these things have not been erased from the world, and are not now relics behind the glass cases of museum exhibits like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, and Sumerians.

With every light in our window shining out against the dark night we proclaim: We are still here and our very existence is a stunning victory of the weak against the strong, the few against the many, the just, who love and protect life, against the lawless, who have no respect for life.

With every candle we light, we reaffirm all those things that hold us together as a nation and a people: our stubborn disregard for the forces aligned against us, our rejection of the lies told about us, and our unwavering assertion of our history and our right to take our place as a nation among the nations. We assert that we are in our homeland, the land that was given to us and which we have inhabited - in lesser or greater numbers-from the time we crossed the Jordan with Joshua. That we, descendants of Abraham and that tribe of desert children born from freed Egyptian slaves, remember who we are despite all efforts to make us forget, to convince us otherwise, to rewrite and defile and deny our history and our rights as a native people living in their native homeland.

We remember not only what we are, but who we are: the torch-bearers of the precious value of human life. Our agony as a nation over the life of one of its precious sons, our willingness to release those who have murdered us without pity so that that son might return to his family and live, that agony unites us as a nation because it goes to the deepest part of our heritage. No other nation in the world would even consider such a trade. But we do, because that is who we are, demonstrating that we have not been infected and defiled by the values of other nations. We stand unique in all the world, every single one of us. Because we are alive at this time and in this place, and we have chosen to spend that life in our homeland despite all the dangers and hardships and sacrifices. Because we are Jews and Israelis and together we light a candle, secular and religious, against the vast darkness of a hostile world. Because with that candle we proclaim: we are a unique people, and we are here to stay.

Happy Chanukah.

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