Connection Between Chanukah and the Modern State of Israel

Chanukah is one of the most significant and public of Jewish holidays. The story of Chanukah includes the themes of defending tradition and culture, victory against staggering odds, and bringing light to the darkness. Many of these themes are reflected in the history of Modern Israel and are relevant in our daily life.

Does History Repeat Itself?

Mark Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” There are many differences between the story of Judea in 200 BCE and the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. In 200 BCE the Jews were fighting against the oppressive yoke of the Syrian-Greek government that was trying to force complete assimilation. In 1948, the Jewish Population of what was then called Palestine was trying to re-establish sovereignty in their homeland.

Is there a connection between the Chanukah story and the modern State of Israel? Can support for causes, such as encouragement to invest in Israel be similar to the Maccabees’ stand against oppression and defense of Jewish tradition? Looking carefully, it is possible to observe parallels and find a close connection that can inspire support for Israel, from buying Israeli investments to visiting the country.

The Chanukah Story

The Chanukah story began in 200 BCE when the Jews were faced with unbearable oppression under the rule of the Syrian-Greeks. Although at the beginning of their reign, they allowed Jews to live peacefully in Judea, with the tyrannical Antiochus, observation of Jewish rituals and Torah study was forbidden. Jews were forced to practice their religion in secret and faced stiff penalties if they were caught.

There were many many martyrs to the cause of Jewish observance. A woman named Hannah faced the martyrdom of her seven sons who refused to bow to idols. Judith assassinated the cruel general Holofernes who persecuted the Jews.

Facing almost impossible odds, the Maccabees arose to fight against the Syrian-Greek hoards and achieved astounding victories which lifted the yoke of oppression off of Judea. When the priests returned to renew the service in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, all of the cruses of oil had been defiled except for one pure cruse. This one cruse of oil lasted for eight days. This is the origin of the practice of lighting the menorah to celebrate the miracle of Chanukah.

A Brief Outline of the Origins of the State of Israel

Zionism, or the belief that Jews have the right to return to their homeland and establish a state, had its origins in the 19th century in the writings of Theodor Herzl. The Zionist movement grew to the point where the British, who were occupying Palestine at the time, issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917 which declared the establishment of a Jewish State.

However, the State of Israel would not become a reality until 1948 after a war for independence against the British. Israel won its independence in 1948. However, the war of liberation was only one battle in a series of ongoing wars by those who did not recognize the State of Israel as legitimate.

Much like the victory of the Maccabees against numerous enemy, the war of 1967 resulted in an Israeli victory over invading forces. The Yom Kippur War, two wars with Lebanon, two intifadas, and ongoing conflicts with Hamas in Gaza and ideological struggles are challenges the Modern State of Israel faces in its fight for survival.

A Parallel History

There are many similarities between the Chanukah story and the modern state of Israel. A fight of the few over the many, the courage to defend a tradition, and the miraculous victories are many themes that reverberate in these two stories. The major difference between these two stories is the obvious one–the victory over the Syrian Greeks happened centuries ago, whereas the Modern State of Israel is still engaged in an ongoing struggle.

There is much to be thankful for. The State of Israel literally made the desert bloom and flourish. Israeli investments are strong and the startup industry is leading the world in innovation and sustainability. Israel has thus far been able to cope with conflicts with a first-class military force and intelligence and technology.

However, the struggle is not over. Everyone who supports Israel should imagine themselves as a modern Maccabee and show this support openly and through financial contributions.

Why It is Important to Invest in Israel

One way to fight for Israel is to invest in Israel. A mutually beneficial Israeli investment is the Jerusalem Portfolio, which is comprised of a fractional interest in 100 Israeli companies through a portfolio of professionally managed  ETFs.

You can give the gift of the Jerusalem Portfolio for as little as $180. The recipient will be given a plaque with a beautiful and customized image of Jerusalem. Talk to our experts today about giving the Jerusalem Portfolio to a special young person as a bar or bat mitzvah gift, birthday, graduation, or other occasions.

October 08, 2021
The Jerusalem Portfolio