It was the second century BCE. The Greek-Assyrians tried to assimilate the minority Jews within the majority culture. With individuals they succeeded – but with the nation they failed. The mighty army of Antiochus waged war on the few Maccabees, but, ‘the strong were delivered into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few.’ They rummaged through the Holy Temple to rekindle the spark of hope that the Menorah represented, and everything was destroyed, except one pure jar of oil with the seal of the High Priest. The oil should have only lasted one day but it lasted 8 days.
Last night I retold the story to my children, as we sat by the first candle. And it never ceases to amaze me, ‘in those days, at this time.’ I am a realist and yet the odds never seem to stack up with our people. David Ben-Gurion was right when he said that ‘in Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.’ We are living miracles and when I see the strength of our students' Jewish identity, my belief in them and our future is only strengthened. Time and time again, possibility triumphs over probability and this must continue.
The next generation is the minority who will not disappear within the majority, the few who will not fall against the many and the lights that will continue to banish the darkness that surrounds us. Chanukah is a time to learn from our past as we spark, ignite and shine through the next generation, illuminating the path ahead for a brighter future!