Why Hanukkah Was More Important Than Ever

February 1, 2024
Heather Feuerstein

Potomac, Maryland, United States

Class of 2025

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This year has seen more hatred and antisemitism than any of us could have imagined. And yet, in its wake, the light of our menorahs shone bright with unwavering Jewish pride. Each night, we were reminded of our ancestors who fought back against the violent Hellenization brought by the Syrian Greek Empire. Each night, we were reminded that we are stronger in solidarity with God on our side, just as the Maccabees fought in ancient Israel. The story of Hanukkah was a powerful reminder of our fight for Israel that has been going on for millennia and maintaining a strong Jewish identity despite a slew of hatred.

The literal translation of the word Hanukkah is “dedication.” Every year, Hanukkah reminds us to reflect on our Jewish identity and dedicate ourselves to keeping the flame (menorah, perhaps) of Judaism alive and thriving for generations to come. This year, we particularly felt a re-dedication to Israel and advocating for its existence. 

The story of Hanukkah shows that in the face of antisemitism, the Jewish people will rise together, and good will prevail against evil. It shows that we must continue to spread the light, not only through the menorahs in our windows but through a positive spirit as well. Hanukkah is all about miracles, and it appears that we need that energy now more than ever. 

We must be proud of our Judaism and reject the instinct to hide our identity. We should not let anti-Semites decide for our community when it is and is not appropriate to be Jewish. Let us honor what our ancestors fought for so we can celebrate today.

Heather Feuerstein is a BBG from Ahavah BBG #2289 of NRE: DC Council and she loves leadership and advocacy!

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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