So last night we began the 8-night process of celebrating the liberation of Israel from the Assyrian occupation and the triumph of courage to challenge those who would limit personal and religious freedoms. There are so many ways to connect that to what we do at JCHE—from the obvious recognition that without JCHE, many of our residents would lack a place to live securely and with dignity—to the more subtle connection between the physical liberation of the Hanukah story with the fact that JCHE offers liberation from loneliness and worry.
As I reread the Hanukah story last week, I was struck by an indirect but powerful lesson that hadn’t resonated previously. (The beauty of the annual cycle is that each time you read a story, you take something new.)
At first, the occupation of Israel by the Greeks/Assyrians was not so onerous. Under Alexander the Great, each population was allowed the freedom to continue their customs, culture and religious practices. But that all changed under Antiochus: the practice of Judaism (and all non-Greek religions) was forbidden. The desire for rebellion was thus born in earnest. It culminated in the overthrow of the Antiochus forces by the brave band of Jewish citizen-warriors led by the Macabees.
How interesting to consider that the occupation itself was less troublesome as long as a respect for differences was present—the ancestor to modern multi-culturalism, don’t you think?
Here at JCHE we welcome seniors from different backgrounds, income levels, religions and languages—and while we work hard to create a real community, we do so while respecting all of the cultures present.