Dear Aish Family,
There are many festive holidays that are celebrated by Jews around the world throughout the year. None strikes more of a cord for Aish than Chanukah. Chanukah in the Old City of Jerusalem is packed with Jews coming to see the spot of the miracle that happened so many years ago.
It was directly across from the Aish HaTorah Dan Family World Center on the Temple Mount where the Kohanim (Hereditary Rabbis who served in the Temple) found only enough oil for one day which lasted for eight. For some reason, many Jews who may not be particularly observant or connected to their Judaism always have a warm place in their heart for Chanukah.
I had the opportunity this week to have a conversation with a fellow Jew who I met on one of my travels. I was in line in a store when the person behind me tapped me on the shoulder and wished me a very loud Happy Chanukah. I turned around to respond and to see who it was. I was surprised when the person in front of me seemed to be a biker dressed in full leather regalia. I’m pretty sure there was even a skull on the back of his vest.
He gave me a big smile and repeated, “Happy Chanukah brother.” He said that whenever he sees someone in a Kippa (skullcap) he lets them know that he’s a “member of the tribe” he then pulled out a chain from under his shirt with a “Chai” (symbol meaning life) on it. We spoke for a few minutes and he told me that although he is not a practicing Jew he is proud of his heritage.
I asked him what it was about Chanukah that he enjoyed. He told me that it symbolized for him all of Jewish history. A bigger and stronger nation tried to beat us up. As always they didn’t realize how tough the little Jews are. In the end, we won. (He used more colorful language).
I gave him my card and told him that if he wanted to learn more about his heritage I had just the place for him, across from the spot of the Chanukah miracle. This chance meeting gave me keen insight into our brothers and sisters that are so far from the Almighty.
Even though many Jews don’t practice religious rituals, they still feel, deep in their hearts, an intense pride for being Jewish. Our job at Aish is to give those Jews an opportunity to turn that pride into action. To give our brothers and sisters the ability to study the wisdom of the Torah and come closer to the Almighty. To help light, not only the candles of the Menorah, but the flame in their hearts.
Warm regards and good shabbos!