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December 14, 1984 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-12-14

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS Friday, December 14, 1984

25

The Light
of Chanukah

Continued From Page 1

smashing victory not only restored
Jewish sovereignty over the Land of
Israel but it galvanized Jewish na-
tional and religious consciousness for
generations to come.
The historical impact of the Mac-
cabean victory was so pervasive that-it
secured Jewish national independence
for nearly 250 years. But in the light of
events in our own times, it proved to be
even more far reaching than antici-
pated; it permeated the collective
Jewish psyche to the extent that after
a 2,000-year-long political hiatus, the
Maccabees' spiritual heirs brought
Jewish history full circle in 1948 by
founding the Third Jewish Common-
wealth with all the trappings of an
ultra-modern state.
In recounting the Chanukah
episode,- it should be remembered that
the Greco-Syrian intruders were not
the only foes with whom the Jewish
freedom fighters were engaged in a
life-and-death struggle. They were
also locked in a fierce and relentless
ideological battle with a growing
internal enemy — the Hellenists —
the precursors of latter day as-
similationists -- who opted for Gre-
cian life-style and culture and posed
an imminent threat to traditional
Judaism. And it was these Hellenizers
who prodded and influenced An-
tiochus Epiphanes to undertake his
persecution of Judaism with a series of
harsh sanctions against religious
practices. A similar despicable role
was played in the early post-
revolutionary period in the Soviet
Union by. Jewish communists who
beat the bushes to stamp out all traces

Are American Jews
today facing their own
Hellenization process?

of Jewish cultural and religious life in
Russia.
Along with all the fanfare and
partying associated with the Festival
of Lights as celebrated by American
Jews, it would be well for them, at this
festive season, to take a hard look at
the skyrocketing tempo of their own
"Hellenization" process that is rapidly
reaching devastating proportions.
But as relevant as the ancient
period in Jewish history is to contem-
porary American Jewish experience,
they are also markedly different. The
avalanche of assimilation descending
upon American Jews poses a far
greater threat to the Jewish people
than did Hellenism during the Macca-
bean era. For all their misguided de-
viation from traditional Judaism, the
Hellenists maintained a close bond
with their people through their at-
tachment to the land of Israel and its
attendant national identity. However,
in the absence of these two factors in
the American Jewish equation, a
danger sign points ominously to total
disintegration.
Immediately following their vic-
tory on the battlefield, the Maccabees
cleansed the desecrated Temple and
kindled an improvised, temporary
menorah. The menorah which sym-
bolizes the light of the Torah, received
top priority. Their legacy to all, but
particularly to AmericanJews is clear:
to conteract the scourge of assimila-
tion, nothing short of a solid Torah
education will prove effective, for that
is and always was the cutting edge of
Jewish survival in the Lands of Dis-
persion.

Seven Arts feature,

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