Eight Days and Nights of Good News

This most recent Festival of Lights brought plenty of joyous occurrences.
December 20, 2023
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The Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson commanded Jews to be joyful. By combatting brutally tough times with joy and happiness, we can spread light and defeat darkness. In the wake of the Oct. 7th, 2023 Hamas attacks on Israel, there has been plenty of pain. Yet this most recent Festival of Lights brought plenty of joyous occurrences. Eight days and nights of good news made Hanukkah 2023 memorable and meaningful.

On Hanukkah Night 1, Dec. 7th, the Biden administration removed the Council on American Islamic Relations from its antisemitism strategy. Marginalizing CAIR deprives them of media oxygen at a time when the information war for hearts and minds is critical. Dec.7th was also Pearl Harbor Day. It was especially nice to see Jewish Pearl Harbor heroes given tributes. Oct. 7th and Pearl Harbor allowed the world to see heroism in the toughest of circumstances.

On Hanukkah Night 2, Dec. 8th, the United States vetoed a United Nations resolution demanding an immediate Gaza ceasefire. This veto was critical in giving Israel valuable time to carry out military operations. This veto was a clear message to the fringe left that America is still a pro-Israel nation.

On Hanukkah Night 3, Dec. 9th, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned under pressure. During a disastrous appearance before a House committee on antisemitism, Magill would not admit that calls for genocide against Jews violated UPenn’s standards. Those opposed to campus antisemitism are finally fighting back.  Meanwhile, Dec. 9th was a triumph for the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. BBYO’s Global Shabbat brought together 16,000 teenagers from 30 countries to spread the joy of Shabbat. Many young Jews in the face of antisemitic attacks are choosing to become more Jewish.

On Hanukkah Night 4, Dec. 10th, the National Football League allowed teams and players to show their support for Israel. Minnesota Vikings owner Ziggy Wilf is the son of Holocaust survivors. He enthusiastically allowed his placekicker Greg Joseph to wear special sneakers during the game. Normally covered in purple and gold, Joseph wore blue and white sneakers promoting Leket Israel humanitarian aid. Leket Israel is the National Food Bank and the leading food rescue organization in Israel. After 58 minutes of scoreless football, Joseph’s field goal in the final two minutes gave the Vikings a 3-0 victory.

On Hanukkah Night 5, Dec. 11th, Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem declared the week of Dec. 11th to be “Shine a Light, Breaking Bread Week.” Governor Noem previously declared Nov. 28, 2021 as “Antisemitism Awareness Week” and proclaimed Feb. 24, 2022 “Israel Relations Day.” Plenty of governors around the country have taken similar actions of solidarity since the Oct. 7th attacks.

On Hanukkah Night 6, Dec. 12th, fantastic fundraising numbers came in. In the two months since the attacks, the Jewish Federation of North America tallied over 700 million dollars in donations. That money gets spread around to over 300 supportive organizations including Chabad, Magen David Adom, United Hatzalah and others. This does not include many more millions of dollars raised by the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces.

On Hanukkah Night 7, Dec. 13th, the IDF officially began flooding Hamas’s underground tunnels with seawater. This bold strategy forces Hamas terrorists out of the tunnels and above ground. Even the early stages of flooding the tunnels have led to some Hamas terrorists surrendering and others reaching above ground long enough to be eliminated. Dec. 13th also made history on Wall Street. For the first time ever, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 37,000. Wall Street leans pro-Israel. The more money Jewish traders make, the more they do give back to Jewish causes.

On Hanukkah Night 8, Dec. 14th, Miami lit up blue and white. Chabad of Downtown Miami and others arranged Jewish Heritage Night with the Miami Heat. Several thousand Jews descended on the Kaseya Center Arena. Kosher food was everywhere. Dancing rabbis were on the jumbotron. After the first quarter, the entire crowd cheered a courtside Menorah lighting. Halftime featured a Jewish music concert. The 12 to 15 minute halftime was also enough time for attendees to daven Maariv. After one final mourner’s Kaddish, it was back inside the arena for the second half.

It is vital to remember that Hanukkah is a joyful celebration of Jewish triumph over anti-Jewish evil. Hanukkah 2023 brought joy and triumph to Jews through sports, education, and military matters. As 2024 approaches, opportunities to keep that positive momentum going are everywhere. Chabad of Lauderhill barely finished Hanukkah before beginning their Hey Teves Farbrengen. Judaism never stops. Nor should it.

Eric Golub is a retired stockbrokerage and oil professional living in Los Angeles.

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