In a few days’ we celebrate Chanukah – the Festival or Feast of Lights.  Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the famous Maccabean Revolt and this celebration commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

On Chanukah we light eight candles to symbolise the number of days that the Temple lantern blazed, despite the fact that there was only enough oil for one day!  As a result, each night, one additional candle is lit until all eight candles in the menorah are blazing together on the final night of the festival. It is customary to place the menorah in the window to spread the light to others thereby symbolising the miracle of Chanukah and most of all, celebrating the freedom of the Jewish people to practice their faith.  

To remind us of the oil in the legendary Chanukah story, we eat foods which are oil-based such as latkes and sufganiyot (donuts).  This is a way of creating joy around the time of Chanukah just as we do for our WIZO day care centers and beautiful homes which are housing and protecting children in Israel.  

There are many modern-day lessons in the Chanukah story;

The first – make things last – just as the oil lasted for eight days so too must we continue to ensure that the support we give our Women’s International Zionist Organisation, together with our projects, is lasting on an ongoing basis.

The second be proud of who you are – just like we need to be proud of who we are as Jewish people we need to be proud and honoured to be supporting our WIZO day care centers for babies, whose parents are working, as well as our homes for children that have been removed from their own parents.  We are thus attempting to ensure that those valuable and safe places are maintained.

The third – sweeten the holiday for others just as we give gifts or Chanukah gelt on Chanukah to our loved ones, so too should we give of our time and donations in support of this very good cause – our beloved WIZO. 

The fourth – the shamash leads the way just as the shamash is at the forefront of lighting all the candles on Chanukah so too do we lead by example. We give of our time and we give our donations to support and sustain our WIZO projects and we ask that you all help us as well.

The fifth – a little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness – just as the oil in the vessel was only supposed to last one day and yet lasted for eight, any small donation that is made and is only supposed to last a short time we hope will broaden itself and ensure the continuation of our efforts to look after the welfare of the families at the day care centers and WIZO homes in Israel.  We have learnt that in both tragedy and joy, one act of light can drive out the darkness, so we continue to give “light” to the abused women and children and to those who are suffering. In order to do this, we need donations.

As you enjoy this special Chanukah time with your families, please remember that this is a time of “giving”.   We can then maintain the miracle and marvel of Chanukah by sustaining and nourishing our women and children who are so carefully protected by WIZO in Israel.  

May the festival of lights and the miracle of Chanukah, bring you and your family much peace, love, health and happiness and may 2023 be a fruitful and successful year with many highlights for our community and for WIZO South Africa.