Dear AHS Community,
In just under a week, we will light the first candle to celebrate the holiday of Chanukah.
Although Chanukah commemorates the military victory of the Maccabees against the hostile forces of Antiochus, it is named not for the victory but for the subsequent rededication of the Temple.
In fact, while the Jewish People have enjoyed a number of major military successes, and holidays have grown out of them, including the holidays of Chanukah and Yom HaAtzmaut, we do not have any "Victory Days" that are named and celebrated as such.
The reason for our lack of victory celebrations in Judaism is that in Judaism, we do not consider military might to be one of our values. If there is no choice, and it is necessary to fight, victory is an imperative tool for our survival, but it is only a tool. It is a means to an end, but not the end itself. The holiday of Chanukah received its name not from the means, but from the values-based end for which they entered the struggle: religious freedom and autonomy in our homeland. The Maccabees fought for the freedom of their faith and against the decrees of Antiochus, and the practical result of their victory was the cancellation of those decrees, the liberation of the Temple, and the rededication of the altar.
So, too, with Yom HaAtzmaut, in the modern era: it, too, is connected to a military victory and it, too, received its name not from the victory but from the independence, security, and autonomy that we fought for, and that we must uphold when we celebrate the holiday.
As we prepare to celebrate Chanukah this year, those values and that struggle feel particularly relevant. At AHS, we are dedicated to instilling in our students a strong sense of pride in their Judaism, and rich Jewish experiences to inform their identity. We invite you to share in the Nachat
we derive from this video
of our students sharing about what their Jewish values and identity mean to them:
On Chanukah, we increase the light that we add to the world each night with the addition of another candle, and so, too, may the world truly become a brighter place with each passing day. As we celebrate Chanukah and remember the victory of the Maccabees that brought us continued self-determination in our homeland, we are thinking, as always, of our home and loved ones in Israel.
AHS stands with Israel, and continues to be committed to upholding our Jewish values and ideals. We are proud to share with you our Fall 2023 issue of We Are Associated
, with a focus on "Associated with Israel." Click below to read the magazine on our website:
With warm wishes for all of us to be imbued with the values of strength and light this Chanukah,
Dr. Lee-Ron Kaye
Head of School