Mayor Nir Barkat and Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef usher in Hanukka at Western Wall

“In Hanukka this year, we still must defend ourselves from our enemies, who seek to kill and expel us from this land,” said the mayor.

December 16, 2014 19:00
2 minute read.
Western Wall

Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat and Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef brought in the Hanukka holiday Tuesday evening at a ceremony by the Western Wall. (photo credit: WESTERN WALL HERITAGE FOUNDATION)

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef welcomed the Hanukka holiday Tuesday evening at the Western Wall, in a public lighting of the site’s hanukkia, the eight-branched candelabra, before a gathering of worshipers.

The holiday, which lasts for eights days, commemorates the campaigns fought by the Hasmonean dynasty against the Seleucid Greek empire in the second century BCE. Addressing those present, Barkat connected the struggle of the modern State of Israel to the battles fought by the Hasmoneans.

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“In Hanukka this year, we still must defend ourselves from our enemies, who seek to kill and expel us from this land,” said the mayor.

“Despite these efforts, we are here in Jerusalem, a holy people in our land in the holy city. And we will continue to build Jerusalem, to build more synagogues and to strengthen Jerusalem. The Jewish people will be ever more united and we will continue to light the Hanukka lights in this holy city.”

In his address to those gathered at the Western Wall, Yosef said that the miracle of Hanukka not only marks the victory over the Greek armies, but also over the Hellenizing influence of the time.

“They sought to make us forget God’s Torah and estrange us from His will,” said Yosef.

“They [the Hellenizers] seek to harm Jewish tradition and change Jewish law, and the light of Hanukka is testimony that the eternity of the Torah will be victorious and neither the Greeks or the Hellenizers will be able to overcome us.”

As every year, a variety of organizations and movements will be staging events, parties, and lighting ceremonies around the country.

One such organization is BINA, a pluralist organization that promotes Jewish identity and Hebrew culture, which will be staging a series of events at the group’s Beit Midrash in Ramat Efal in Ramat Gan, as well as at its two secular yeshivas in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood.

BINA director Eran Baruch told The Jerusalem Post that the secular community in Israel is too apathetic and that there is an element of emptiness in everyday life with respect to the Jewish content, or lack thereof, in many people’s lives.

Referencing the early Zionist thinker A.D. Gordon, Baruch noted that “light will not defeat darkness until we understand the simple truth, that instead of fighting the darkness we must increase the light.”

“The problem with pluralist and liberal Judaism at the moment is that there is not enough action, not enough doing,” he said, and pointed to the haredi community as a positive example of how to live Judaism.

“I am not haredi or religious, but if I want to be Jewish then I need to study Torah, celebrate the holidays, and think about what Judaism says to me every day when I wake up in the morning. Ben-Gurion was not religious, but no one doubted that he was intimately familiar with the Bible or that he saw himself as part of a chain linking Jewish leaders from the time of the prophets of Israel to modern times.”

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