Hanukkah Reflections 2016

By, Estelle Edelbaum

We stand beside the mantel.
And as we handle the candles,
in our minds we’re refreshing…
“First we say the blessing,
then we light, to left from right”
on this Festival of Lights.

Staring at the flames,
we remember the names,
like Mattathias
who had a bias
against the impious
King Antiochus,
who threatened the Jews
to choose to recuse
themselves from the awe of one god,
or else they would find themselves
being unlawful by being aweful …
The choice was simply awful!
Either way they lose…
But the Jews would never surrender;
Their covenant with God they’d never sever!
This enraged the king, Antiochus.
He decried them
for defying his ruthless ordinance.
He sought to get even

For them not believin’…
He sent his men to Jerusalem
to cause destruction and mayhem…
His instructions were simple;
“Wreak havoc on their temple…
Steal their silver and gold,
build a statue of Zeus to behold
and burn down the houses of those
who show up to oppose!”

The riotous men of Antiochus,
with malice,
defaced and debased
every space in the holy place.
They stole and destroyed and ruined
with impunity
the Temple,
so sacred to the Jewish community…

Mattathias spoke to his son about Antiochus,
“Today they razed the Temple.
Tomorrow they will come for us!
Judah, my son, we must fight this enemy!
We are Maccabees…
You and your brothers and me,
we will teach the others to fight
and reclaim our rights
to worship as we please.”
Judah nodded and agreed...
The people were led to the hills
and began to have drills
for improving their fighting skills.
And though they were out-numbered,
they were unencumbered,
remembering the laws under which,
at a minimal, they were criminals...

How they tried to convict us!
They were vicious and malicious!
They were cruel and inglorious…
But we were victorious!
With courage and enthusiasm
we won our right to keep our Judaism!
We survived! We won the fight!
In spite of their spite…

I stand by the mantle, considering each candle…
With the shamash in one hand, and a match in the other,
The ritual begins… and as we light all the others,
and as we think of King Antiochus, and how close he came to annihilating us,
and remember how the Maccabees fought long and hard to finally beat ‘em,
We marvel at our bright Hanuka lights, kindled in freedom for eight straight nights!