On Sunday evening, December 2, the people of Sderot, Israel – a town located a mere kilometer from the Gaza border – gathered to light the first candle of the town’s menorah to commemorate the first day of Hanukkah. Jews around the world celebrate this holiday, which marks the time some two millennia ago when the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Second Temple.
What makes the candle lighting in Sderot worth mentioning is the fact that it is particularly symbolic of how the Jewish spirit looks for ways to turn tragedy into triumph.
The people of Sderot live under constant threat of incoming rockets from Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Literally thousands of rockets have been launched by the Palestinians at this small Israeli farming community. It’s an understatement to say that living under the constant threat of terrorism is challenging and stressful. Imagine that it’s 3 a.m. and the Red Alert siren blares out a warning that rockets are incoming. Being so close to the Gaza border, people have only 15 seconds or less to reach the safety of a bomb shelter. How do you get your entire family, small children, babies and the elderly and handicapped, out of bed and into a bomb shelter in only seconds?
This frightening scenario can – and does – occur at any time of the day or night, yet the citizens of Sderot refuse to live in fear, anguish, despair or defeat. In fact, they have literally turned the darkness into light. The town’s menorah, crafted by artisans in the community, is made from Kassam rockets that landed and exploded in Sderot. This item stands tall and proud as a testimony to the resilience of the Jewish people. The evil that was meant to destroy property and harm and kill innocent Israelis has instead been turned into a symbol of the light of the Torah.
The citizens of this beleaguered town have turned “swords into plowshares.” The leadership and the citizens of Sderot have become symbols for true grit, bravery, determination and courage that are so characteristic of Israelis. While the rockets may blacken the sky, they cannot dampen or darken the Jewish spirit, which has figured out a way to turn the evil of terrorism into a source of light – and where there is light, there can be no darkness.
As we enter this holiday season when we sing songs about peace on earth and goodwill toward men, let’s remember our Jewish brothers and sisters in the land of Israel – a people and a place that are special in God’s sight. God says we are to pray for the “peace of Jerusalem.” May we be ever faithful to do so, not only this month but each and every day throughout the year. All Christians have a responsibility to Israel and the Jewish people. After all, Jesus was a Jew and we can’t love Him if we don’t embrace His family. So as we prepare to celebrate the season when God’s light came into the world, let us also remember our Jewish brothers and sisters as they fulfill their destiny of being a light unto the nations.
Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post