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November 27, 1987 - Image 98

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-11-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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"The Hasmoneans," a panel on the outdoor menorah opposite Israel's
Knesset, depicts armed struggle against the Greeks for freedom of
worship.

Heirs Of The Maccabees

YOSEF BEN
SHLOMO HaKOHEN

0

f all the traditional
Jewish holidays,
Chanukah most em-
bodies the spirit of modern
Israel, for it was born out of
an armed struggle by Jews
fighting for freedom against
an enemy more numerous
and militarily stronger than
itself. If one travels to kibbut-
zim and moshavim
throughout the land during
this eight-day festival, one
will hear teachers tell their
students, "we are the heirs to
the Maccabees."
There is another side to the
Chanukah celebrations in
Israel, and that, of course, is
the religious aspect. In homes
and synagogues throughout
the country, Jews light the
menorah, the symbol of the
nation's inner strength — the
light of the Jewish spirit.
The portion of the prophets
said for this holiday reads,
"Not by might, nor by power,
but by my spirit, says the
Lord of Hosts." And in the
yeShivot, the traditional
centers of Torah study, rabbis
tell their students, "We are
the heirs to the Maccabees,
for it is we who are continu-

ing the struggle against
assimilation."
These two sides of
Chanukah in Israel have
come to reflect a growing and
bitter conflict over the very
definition and purpose of the
Jewish state. To many secular
Jews, the yeshivah world is
betraying the very spirit of
the Maccabees by not serving
in the army and participating
in the defense of the country,
with the exception, of course,
of the religious Zionists. And
to the spiritual leaders of
these yeshivot, secular
Israelis are abandoning the
values that inspired the Mac-
cabees to begin the struggle.
"Did not the Maccabees fight
to preserve the Sabbath when
the Greeks forbade the Jews
to obey the Sabbath laws?"
Of course, yeshivah
students forget that the
Zionist movement has always
made strong efforts against
assimilation, and that if there
were Zionist ideologists who
wanted the Jews to become a
nation like any other, then
there were many who called
on Israel to become a light
like any other, then there wer
many who called on Israel to
become a light unto the na-
tions in the spirit of the an-

Continued on Page 42

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