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A Hanukkah Guide for the Perplexed, 2023

Then-Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz participates in a Hanukkah candle lighting at Jerusalem’s Western Wall on Nov. 28, 2021. Photo: Government Press Office

As Hanukkah begins on Thursday, here are eight facts you might not know about the “Festival of Lights”:

1. According to Israel’s Founding Father, David Ben-Gurion, Hanukkah commemorates “the struggle of the Maccabees, which was one of the most dramatic clashes of civilizations in human history, not merely a political-military struggle against foreign oppression. … Unlike many peoples, the meager Jewish people did not assimilate.  The Jewish people prevailed, won, sustained, and enhanced their independence and unique civilization. … It was the spirit of the people, rather than the failed spirit of the establishment, which enabled the Hasmoneans to overcome one of the most magnificent spiritual, political and military challenges in Jewish history….” (Uniqueness and Destiny, pp 20-22, David Ben Gurion, IDF Publishing, 1953).

2. Hanukkah is a Jewish national liberation holiday. Hanukkah is the only Jewish holiday that commemorates an ancient national liberation struggle in the Land of Israel, unlike the national liberation holidays, Passover, Sukkot/Tabernacles, and Shavuot/Pentecost, which commemorate the liberation from slavery in Egypt to independence in the land of Israel, and unlike Purim, which commemorates liberation from a Persian attempt to annihilate the Jewish people.

3. Hanukkah and the Land of Israel. When ordered by Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid region to end the Jewish “occupation” of Jerusalem, Jaffa, Gaza, Gezer, and Akron, Shimon the Maccabee responded: “We have not occupied a foreign land. … We have liberated the land of our forefathers from foreign occupation (Book of Maccabees A: 15:33).”

Hanukkah highlights the centrality of the Land of Israel in the formation of Jewish history, religion, culture, and language. The mountain ridges of Judea and Southern Samaria (the West Bank) were the platform for the Maccabean military battles.

4.  Hanukkah is narrated in the Books of the Maccabees, The Scroll of Antiochus, and The Wars of the Jews. In 323 BCE, following the death of Alexander the Great (Alexander III), who held Judaism in high esteem, the Greek Empire was split into three independent and rival mini-empires: Greece, Seleucid/Syria, and Ptolemaic/Egypt.

In 175 BCE, the Seleucid/Syrian Emperor Antiochus (IV) Epiphanes claimed the Land of Israel. He suspected that the Jews were allies of his Ptolemaic/Egyptian enemy. The Seleucid emperor was known for eccentric behavior, hence his name, Epiphanes, which means “divine manifestation.” He aimed to exterminate Judaism and convert Jews to Hellenism. In 169 BCE, he devastated Jerusalem, attempting to decimate the Jewish population, and outlaw the practice of Judaism.

In 166/7 BCE, a Jewish rebellion was led by the non-establishment Hasmonean (Maccabee) family from the rural town of Modi’in, half-way between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean.  The rebellion was headed by Mattityahu, the priest, and his five sons, Yochanan, Judah, Shimon, Yonatan, and Eleazar, who fought the Seleucid occupier and restored Jewish independence.  The Hasmonean dynasty was replete with external and internal wars and lasted until 37 BCE, when Herod the Great (a proxy of Rome) defeated Antigonus II Mattathias.

5. The reputation of Jews as superb warriors was reaffirmed by the success of the Maccabees on the battlefield. In fact, they were frequently hired as mercenaries by Egypt, Syria, Carthage, Rome, and other global and regional powers.

6. Hanukkah celebrates the Maccabean-led national liberation by conducting in-house family education and lighting candles for eight days in commemoration of the re-inauguration of Jerusalem’s Jewish Temple and its menorah (candelabra).

The Hebrew words Hanukkah (חנוכה), inauguration (חנוכ), and education (חנוך)possess the same root.

7. As was prophesized by the Prophet Hagai in 520 BCE, the re-inauguration of the Temple took place on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which is the month of miracles, such as the post-flood appearance of Noah’s rainbow, the completion of the construction of the Holy Ark by Moses, the laying of the foundations of the Second Temple by Nehemiah, etc.

The first day of Hanukkah is celebrated when daylight hours are equal to darkness hours — and when moonlight is hardly noticed — ushering in brighter days.

8. Hanukkah highlights the defeat of darkness, disbelief, forgetfulness, and pessimism by the spirit of light, faith, commemoration, and optimism.

The author is a former Israeli ambassador, and political commentator.

The post A Hanukkah Guide for the Perplexed, 2023 first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Why now may be the time to consider senior living

When Samara began exploring retirement residences in the Thornhill area for her mother, she felt immediately drawn to Chartwell Constantia Retirement Community and its exceptional customer service. “I have been going there to visit my mother for the last six years. They have fabulous staff. The food quality and presentation are lovely. The management team […]

The post Why now may be the time to consider senior living appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Gallant: Seizing Internal Hamas Documents Brings Hostage Deal Closer

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meeting with IDF commanders, including members of the elite Shayetet 13 marine commando unit, in Atlit, Israel, Jan. 17, 2023. Photo: Ariel Hermoni (Israel’s Ministry of Defense)

i24 NewsIsraeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant provided a review to fellow ministers of weapons and documents belonging to Hamas, which were collected by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Document and Technical Means Collection Unit (Amshat) operating in the Gaza Strip.

“This morning we are hosting the government meeting at the IDF, in the defense establishment, to show the ministers exactly how we are achieving and deepening our achievements and what is coming out of the Gaza Strip,” Gallant explained.

“You can see a small part of the things here – missiles, explosive charges, mines, a great many maps, means of communication, documents, computers, drives, all these things which the IDF uses now on as intelligence, and not only that,” the defense minister continued.

“These demonstrate that we penetrated into the heart of the most sensitive places of Hamas and use their intelligence against them,” Gallant described the process of attaining the documents and weapons, hinting at some of the locations from where it was found.

“We are using their weapons against them, detonating them in the field, all this leads to the consequence of deepening and penetrating the heart of Hamas’ capabilities,” the defense minister said.

“The more we deepen our operations, the closer we get to a realistic deal in order to return the hostages,” Gallant concluded.

The post Gallant: Seizing Internal Hamas Documents Brings Hostage Deal Closer first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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UNRWA Chief Urged to Resign After ‘Absurd’ Pledge of Ignorance

View of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) building in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90.

i24 NewsIsraeli diplomatic leaders called for the resignation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, following denial of knowing about a Hamas data center under the agency’s headquarters in Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) revealed on Saturday night that Hamas built a vast network of tunnels under the UNRWA headquarters, with a base directly underneath that was even hooked up to its grid.

“The exposure of UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters’ deep involvement with Hamas, including its use for terror activities and as an access point to terror tunnels, requires immediate action,” the Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, posted on X.

“Philippe Lazzarini’s claim of unawareness is not only absurd but also an affront to common sense. His prompt resignation is imperative,” Katz concluded.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, also called for the UNRWA Commissioner-General to resign, responding “it’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know.”

“We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did you refuse, you chose to stick your head in the sand,” Erdan added in a detailed post on X.

.@UNLazzarini it’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know. We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did… https://t.co/bJsD66OwoO

— Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) February 10, 2024

“Take responsibility and resign today!” the Israeli ambassador said, “Every day we find more proof that in Gaza the UN=Hamas and vice versa. Anything the UN says or claims about Gaza cannot be trusted.”

The post UNRWA Chief Urged to Resign After ‘Absurd’ Pledge of Ignorance first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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