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Letter from Israel at Chanuka
Last uploaded : Sunday 5th Dec 2004 at 03:01
Contributed by : Sheila Raviv


Dear Friends,

It seems too incredible to accept that we are fast approaching Chanuka, Christmas and yet another new year. 2005 is fast approaching and I pray that we will all have a more peaceful and fulfilling year than the last. Chanuka is the story of bravery of a few good men and true, in the face of those who would impose their will on the Jewish people. The lesson that we must learn is that only be standing up for what we are and what we stand for will the Jewish people be respected.

When asked I always say "Yes, I am a Jew. We have traditions which differ from yours so come, let us learn about each." Through this attitude I have learned about others and they have learned about me. My wonderful old friend Rudolph Walker, a fine actor, used to love to come to our home on Chanuka. Each night he would listen to the story and watch my children light the Chanuka lights and then he would sing along with us as we sang "Maoz Tzur" It was a long, long way from his Trinidadian Christian upbringing, yet he felt the closeness of the religions, as one gave birth to the other.

Chanuka in Israel brings out the Sufganiyot---doughnuts, heavy and greasy, filled with jam seem to be on every counter. The costermongers of the shouk were shouting their highly undietetic wares to all comers. On every other stand in the shouk they wre selling Chanukiot and many different types of candles, from the old fashioned to the multicoloured hand-dipped ones; Traditional nine branched chanukiot and replicas of ancient oil lamps, Jerusalem stone and silver, hand painted childrens which look like Noahs Ark. Each night we are reminded of the miracle as the light shines on eager young faces. Through the miracle of the oil lamp we remember Judah Maccabee, which means The Jewish Hammer and the Macabbees, meaning hammers (maybe that is why so many Jews support Hammersmith football team!!!) who were not afraid to stand up against the might of the Hellenic Empire and refused to give up their Jewish traditions and identity to bow down to their Greek gods. This was the first time in history that a people fought for the right to free prayer. A miracle indeed.

There was one incident this week which I feel needs clarification. "The violinist". A Palestinian violinist was passing through a check-point, a border crossing from the Shomron into Israel. He was carrying a violin case and was asked to open it for inspection, whether he then began playing of his own volition or whether he was asked to play is irrelevant?he played to prove that all was OK. This could have been on any country's border, while checking for drugs or explosives. It was even more important in Israel for anyone with a memory of the Sbarro homicide bombing when the perpetrator entered the restaurant with a guitar case filled with explosives. Any sane journalist who can write that the behaviour of the Israeli border guards was in any way offensive is way off course.

Marwan Barghouti is incarcerated in an Israeli prison for five separate counts of murder. He intends running for the Palestinian leadership, and I think he is probably the best person available! Barghouti did some awful things but, and this is a big but, he is not corrupt. Whatever he did, he is guilty of but he is one of the only ones who did not take advantage of his poor downtrodden people. Barghouti lived simply, speaks several languages, including perfect Hebrew, and has the Palestininas in his heart. I have been saying for some time, in front of influential witnesses, that I believe he is the only logical choice, and to my amazement my listeners agreed with me. Only time will tell.

If you wish to buy gifts for Chanuka can I suggest that you go to a non-profitmaking site

which is run by the Christian Broadcasting Network. They have a full list of Israeli goods for your delectation!

I wish you Shabbat Shalom and as we approach Chanuka I wish you a life lit by the candles of hope.

With love



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