The kindling of lights at Hannukah remembers the history of the Jewish People. Their legacy is to share a commitment to Jewish values. We light candles to review our faith in ourselves, in each other, in our people, and in our State of Israel. Hanukkah is the festival of Am Israel, the festival of a strong and independent Jewish People. Yet as the festival of liberty, Hanukkah celebrates more than the independence of our People–it glorifies the right to freedom of all peoples.
Hanukkah affirms the universal truth that the only effective answer to aggression and oppression is the uninterrupted, positive assertion of the principles and values—Jewish values—that oppression threatens. These values, freedom, justice, righteous resistance, inspired by the Maccabean movement, were not simply an abstract and academic rejection of tyranny and oppression. They expressed a desire to safeguard a strong, independent identity and way of life. Hannukah was a fight for Judaism, a military uprising against oppression which went hand-in-hand with a powerful desire for a restoration of the Jewish People, of Am Israel.
After the dark nights of the Holocaust, today’s Maccabees in Israel and Diaspora must ensure that our flame, the Jewish freedom flame, the light of Hanukkah, forever illuminates the way to the future for all generations.
We Diaspora Jews are in the front lines, called upon to unite with our sisters and brothers in Israel and the world over to ensure that our fight against darkness, hate, antisemitism and evil will, as ever and forever, prevail.
AM ISRAEL CHAI! The Jewish People Lives!
Hag Urim Sameach
Hag Hanukkah Sameach
Happy Festival of Lights and Joy
(Baruch Cohen, who recently celebrated his 95th birthday, is Research
Chairman of CIJR, and a member of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Center)