Written By: Toronto
Chanukah, from a historical, rather than a hallachic point of view
Suitable for Shabbat
Suggested Age: Zach
Hide-and-Go-Greek (get it?!?!), and a sicha- I know that kids aren’t always so into sichot, but this one is really, really, important! Assimilation is a massive, massive issue!
But first, the fun stuff!
You all know the game! One "Greek" tries to hunt out the Maccabim hiding in the hills.
So, here is how to run this Sicha: first, ask the chanichim whether the separation of religion and state in a modern day Israel is a good thing (get into a discussion and play devil’s advocate) Next allow this to be your lead into everything explained below*- When you get to the *** say: At the time of Chanukah, Israel was a religious state and Antiochus tried to turn it into a secular one. Unfortunately today is not much different. Israel is a religious state as it was for centuries and many people are trying to change it. Many people have assimilated with Western culture would prefer to spend shabbat at a disco rather than shul. While it is not our job to attack these people, or to judge them, we still can have the opinion that the secularization of Israel is not right. If we are secularized, what makes Israel different from any other country? Also, another idea to throw out: If Israel becomes a secular state have we "wasted" the efforts of the Maccabim? They liberated Israel just so Jews could practice Judaism, now have we not honored their actions by allowing it to become secular? Talk about it!!!! (I am not advocating either point of view, I just feel like this is the best way to run the sicha)
*Discuss the situation in Israel in the Hellenistic period. Israel was conquered by Alexander the Great of Macedonia in 333 BCE. Alexander was a very unique ruler. He allowed all the nations he captured to practice their own religion. This was unheard of at the time, but a great tactic, because it is a lot easier to rule over happy people then mad ones. When Alexander’s empire was divided into three, Israel was ruled over by the Ptolemies of Egypt. The Jews of Israel basically lived in peace until the rule of Antiochus the 4th in 170BCE. He indoctrinated the Jews with Hellenistic ideals such as, body image, sports, Greek philosophy, theater and other hedonistic past times. While all these things sound very nice, the Jews were no longer allowed to practice Judaism. This eventually lead to the Maccabi revolt in 167-4 BCE, but this is not really the focus of the sicha. The sad part of the situation was, that while some Jews such as the Maccabim still stood up for Judaism, others liked the Hellenistic way of life and started to assimilate with the Greeks. ***Antiochus tried his best to secularize Israel, and unfortunately this is not much different than the situation in Israel today. Although today no one revokes your rights to practice Judaism, allowing public transport on Shabbat may not be so far off.