On Sunday evening, December 2nd, the people of Sderot, Israel - a town located less than one mile from the Gaza border – gathered to light the first candle of the town’s menorah to commemorate the first day of Chanukah (also spelled Hanukkah). Jews around the world celebrate this holiday which marks the time when the Maccabean Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Second Temple. What makes the candle lighting in Sderot worth mentioning is the fact that it is symbolic of how the Jewish spirit looks for ways to turn tragedy into triumph.
The story of Hanukkah is often told with an emphasis on the evil ruler, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, King of the Hellenistic Seleucid empire, who was bent on the Hellenization of the Jewish people. Had he succeeded it would have meant the demise of the Jewish faith and thereby, the Jewish people. God’s plan to bring salvation to the world through their Messiah would have died with them.