Hanukkah is one of the most celebrated and perhaps the most publicly visible Jewish holiday. It is quite possible that, in the Western world at least, Hanukkah enjoys the popularity that it does due to its close proximity to Christmas. Be that as it may, the vast majority of the Tribe participates in some sort of Hanukkah celebration. For some, it’s all about the “eight crazy nights” of gifts (to assuage “Christmas-tree envy”). For others, the Hanukkah lights hold deep spiritual inspiration and meaning. And for others yet, the highlight of the season is the delightful gastronomical offerings like latkes and sufganiyot.
There are those, however, that do not spend the holiday by basking in the glow of the candlelight or enveloped in the warmth and love of family and friends. And no, it’s not due to their ignorance or apathy. Quite the contrary, it is because of their deep sacrifice and devotion. They will spend the holiday in a cold, dark bunker, or a remote border base. They are, of course, the brave soldiers of the IDF.
Alphonse de Lamartine once said that grief and sadness knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger than common joys. For some reason, when tragedy strikes we are sprung into action, spurred by genuine feelings of empathy and concern. Inexplicable as it may be, although we do not have lesser degree of caring, it seems so much harder to share with others at times of happiness and joy. Let’s change that.
For Hanukkah this year, while we all enjoy our religious freedom together with our families, latkes and dreidels, I am proud to say that – in keeping with longstanding and deeply rooted tradition – Chabad will be partnering with a student group in Israel that has dedicated themselves to reciprocate the love, by leaving the comfort of their homes and traveling to various IDF bases for every day of Hanukkah, bringing the joy and spirit of the holiday to the front lines. Oh, and of course, lots and lots of sufganiyot.
If you’d like to partner with us (this is not a solicitation – it’s an opportunity) as we salute and support the soldiers of the IDF, contact me at [email protected]
Let there be light!
(Photo: IDF soldiers eating sufganiyot. Credit: IDF)