Tonight we light the first Chanukah candle. As we do so, we should keep in mind that while Chanukah is a joyous holiday, its true meaning should not be obscured by the latkes and the gifts. Chanukah is all about religious freedom, the freedom to serve G-d as we wish. Back then it was the Greeks who tried to make Jews into Hellenists and killed those who refused. But this modus operandi is not limited to the Greeks. It was practiced by both Christians and Muslims during the many many years of Jewish persecution.
Today ISIS and the Taliban are killing those who do not practice the same brand of Islam as they do. A tragic recent story described the beheading of four Christian youngsters in Iraq who refused to convert to Islam. Religious bigotry, unfortunately, is alive and well. The freedom to practice any religion freely is not a given in many countries. Jews, in particular, are unwelcome in many parts of the world. They no longer exist in most Arab countries and have been attacked in a number of European cities. The difference is that fortunately, today, unlike in the past, persecuted Jews have a place to go, a place where they are free to practice and believe as they wish. That place of course is Israel. Israel by the way is also a safe haven for many other groups that that been persecuted because of their religion, such as the Bahai, and Ahmadi.
So as you light the candles, think about how fortunate we are that our kids no longer have to play dreidel to hide their Jewish education, that you can practice your religion freely and that if worse comes to worse, you have a place to go where you will be safe.
Enough of the seriousness. Let’s lighten things up a bit. Here are links to eight Chanukah videos that you may enjoy.
Chanukah Music Videos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqEQy6l1kzc KeyTov Orchestra
Some of these are classics. Some have newer versions, such as the Maccabeats, whose newest video can be found here.
Happy Chanukah from JewTee! May your Chanukah be joyous and full of laughter and good cheer.