Hanukkah in the Year of COVID

The Fellowship  |  December 11, 2020

Yael Eckstein with Hanukkah menorah, Winter 2020

When Jewish people around the world began the most recent celebration of Hanukkah in 2020, it was very different because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But, as Yael shares with our friends at Fox News, this season of lights and miracles reminds us that God works in miraculous ways and will transform darkness to light:

It has been a difficult year to find hope. It seems that any light in the world has been extinguished, leaving only darkness. But just as we are tempted to despair, into this dark world comes Hanukkah, a holiday that celebrates light. In fact, the holiday is even known as the Festival of Lights.

Most people know Hanukkah as a festive holiday when Jewish people light menorahs, and Jewish children get presents for a whole week and play games with dreidels. But while Hanukkah is that, it is also so much more. It’s a holiday that tells an inspiring story of God’s protection and provision.

Hanukkah reminds us that hope is stronger than despair. In the darkest places, at the darkest hour, if we stand up to the darkness with our light of faith and action, God will work through us in miraculous ways to transform the night into day.

This story is certainly one we need to hear and internalize today.

The Hanukkah story begins more than 2,000 years ago, when a powerful Greek and Syrian army invaded Israel and tried to impose paganism on the Jewish people. While many people accommodated the new regime, a small group of Jews, the Maccabees, kept the light of faith burning and refused to water down their devotion to God. They revolted, and against overwhelming odds, prevailed against their oppressors.

After their victory, the Jews set out to purify the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, which had been desecrated by the Romans. But when they went to light the Temple’s eternal flame, they realized they only had enough pure olive oil to keep the flame burning for one day, and it would take another seven days to get more of the special oil they needed.

Acting out of faith, the Jews lit the Temple lamp anyway. They trusted God, and He miraculously kept the lamp lit for an entire eight days, until more pure oil arrived.

While Hanukkah has always been one of my favorite holidays, I’m particularly excited for its arrival this year. Knowing that it will come reminds me that even in times of adversity, some things do not change…

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