Lighting Candles in the Darkness
Dear Friend of The Fellowship,
Hanukkah, which starts this Sunday at sundown, is a festive holiday, when Jewish people light menorahs, and children get presents for a whole week and play games with dreidels. But it is also much more: At its foundation, Hanukkah is an inspiring story of God’s protection and provision.
The story of Hanukkah began more than 2,000 years ago, when a powerful Greek and Syrian army invaded Israel and tried to impose paganism on the Jewish people. While many people tried to accommodate this powerful new regime, a small group of Jews, known as the Maccabees, stood strong in their devotion to God. The Maccabees revolted against this powerful army – and miraculously, despite overwhelming odds, prevailed.
After their victory, the Jews set out to purify the Temple during the eight-day Feast of Dedication. But when they went to light the Temple’s eternal flame – a key part of any synagogue even to this day – they realized they only had enough oil to keep the flame burning for one day. In an inspiring act of faith, they lit it anyway. They trusted God, and He miraculously kept the lamp lit for the entire eight days. This is why Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days, and why it is called the "Festival of Lights."
Jews and Christians alike find many important lessons in Hanukkah. We’re inspired to take a courageous and countercultural stand for our faith. We are reminded of the importance of religious liberty, a right we need to continue to fight for – Christians and Jews together. And we see that when we have complete faith in God, He often responds by accomplishing with His strength what we can’t with our own.
There is so much darkness in the world today – discrimination, strife, abject poverty, anti-Semitism, and war. Thankfully, the Jewish people do not face this darkness alone. I am so grateful for you, my friends. Through your support of The Fellowship, you too are lighting candles in the darkness. This year as I light each candle in my menorah, I will thank God for your faithfulness and generosity, and for the ways God continues to protect and provide for His children.
With prayers for shalom, peace.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
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