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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Hanukkah: Light in Darkness

Light features prominently in the holiday of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.  Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons took a stand against the encroaching Greek influence and idol worship in 168 BCE.  Rather than bow the knee to pagan practices, the men fought, setting off a Jewish revolt throughout the land of Israel.

Three years later, approaching Jerusalem’s Temple, which had been defiled by idols and pigs, the sons led by Judah now had a decision to make after purifying the sanctuary:  either light the menorah lampstand with enough oil to last one day, or wait and send for more oil which would take about a week to arrive. So strong was their desire to rededicate the Temple to the living God, that they used what little oil was on hand.

Miraculously, the menorah stayed lit for eight days until more oil arrived.  Now we say in Hebrew, “Ness gadol haya sham” (A great miracle happened there).  The holiday is celebrated by lighting menorahs, saying prayers, and eating so many foods cooked in oil that it’s a miracle not more people are rushed to the hospital….

There are some challenges we all face today, having the courage to stand up for what is right, and maybe even causing some miracles to happen in the process.  All we have is today and using the opportunities around us to make a difference in the here and now, come what may in the days following.  It may not be politically correct thousands of years after that first Hanukkah, but there is still right and wrong, good and evil in the world, and it is worth taking a stand.

Our kids know it.  As older adoptees, they have more wisdom than many adults I know:  there is a right way, and a wrong way, to live.  Each has its consequences and they never want to return to careless, thoughtless living.

Recently, over Thanksgiving, we had a congregational opportunity to express our gratefulness.  Our kids stood, one by one without prodding, and if there was a dry eye in the crowd, I don’t know how.  The crescendo came with Sashenka, her little munchkin-like voice stating loud and clear:  “Thank you for saving me from darkness.”

Those were her words:  darkness.  Children often have a clarity, and a purity of vision that we as adults should also possess.  May we be their examples as Mattathias was for his sons, speaking out against what is wrong, and despite all odds, daring to kindle the light today.



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