On Sunday we left the light of the Chanukah lamps behind us, but here is a thought about extending Chanukah’s light throughout the year.
I heard the following story from attorney Irit Halevy, who lives in the Givat Massuah neighborhood of Jerusalem. She and her husband, former Knesset member Amit Halevy, together with their children, knocked on the door of the woman living opposite them and invited her over for their Chanukiyah lighting. All they knew about her was that she was an older immigrant from the former Soviet Union. And then they discovered who she was: Ruth Alexandrovich, the famous prisoner of Zion.
She was born in Latvia and at the age of 14 helped organize the underground Jewish resistance to the Communist regime. Until she succeeded in making aliyah, she led groups that studied Judaism and the Hebrew language. She was arrested by the KGB and in her apartment much “forbidden material” was found including a picture of Golda Meir. She tried to convince her interrogators that Golda was her grandmother. The KGB investigated her for six months and finally sent her to a forced labor camp for one year. After demonstrations on her behalf throughout the world, she was freed and made aliyah.
And so in the light of the Chanukah lamps, she told her story to the Halevy family this week regarding the Hasmoneans of our generation. It’s a story with which we are not sufficiently familiar. A school and youth group in the neighborhood who heard about her story have already requested that she come and speak to them.
So Chanukah is over, and it is unlikely that your neighbors have such a dramatic story to tell. But you never know how much light might be hidden behind the door opposite yours. It would be worthwhile to check and see.
(Translation by Yehoshua Siskin)