Hanukkah has concluded, and a special one at that. The Jewish people this year were able to celebrate a holiday miracle: that the United States formally intends to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The eight-day Festival of Lights also celebrates another miracle, one brought about by the dedication and determination of a faithful people. Faith and determination are qualities still much needed in today’s world. The power of belief that the two holidays, and two religions, share give Christians and Jews common ground on which to stand during this special season.
Hanukkah inspires because it is the story of perseverance against great odds, and of what people can accomplish when they are united in a common purpose.
The holiday honors the struggle of ancient Jews to reestablish the temple of Jerusalem. After Syrians desecrated the temple and renamed it for the Greek god Zeus, a Jewish resistance movement rose under the leadership of a family named the Maccabees.
The Jewish fighters turned back the stronger Syrians twice, ultimately prevailing in retaking the temple. Legend has it that when the Maccabees reentered the temple, they found a single jar of oil, enough for only one day of light. But it lasted a full eight days, until a courier could return with additional oil.
Along with patient and unwavering faith, the story speaks also of valor, and of courage.
But the overarching theme is unity. There is nothing that can’t be overcome when good people work together.
As another year ends with our nation bitterly divided, it is important that we remember that Hanukkah lesson.