Claire Segal, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Today, I realized something. This is the only time, possibly in my entire life (unless I decide to make aliya), that I will be experiencing each holiday in its entirety. This is the only time (and the only place in the world) where, no matter where I go, everyone is doing what I do. There are Sukkahs at every house, sufganiyot on every corner, costumes on every street. A kosher restaurant or two on every block, tzniut clothing in every store, a mezuza on every building. It’s so amazing to see–everywhere I look, I see me and my people. There are no pumpkins, no Christmas songs, and no Christmas trees. Instead, there are people wishing you a Chodesh Tov, a Shabbat Shalom, and a Chag Sameach. It’s amazing!! There is no other country–or city, for that matter–where every single person is united. There is no other country where you can travel anywhere and run into someone that you know, or go to the meet-up street and see everyone whom you’ve ever met. There is no other place where bus drivers and doctors are seen as equals–solely because they share the same blood. People always say that Israelis are stereotyped as rude because Israelis are all family–in times of need, they come together. It’s so, so true. Israelis, for the most part, are kind and giving on the inside–it’s just the busy streets that make them seem like insensitive and rude human beings. The land of Israel is truly where the Jewish people belong, and I’ve never felt it more.
Every time I see something that I love about Israel, I think about how it’s different at home. At home, Christmas starts in September. Here, it doesn’t even exist!! Instead, you see a different kind of sufganya on every corner–and honestly, how can a song compare to that?
The Jewish people are such a miraculous nation, and I’m finally starting to understand that.
Today, we watched a video, and in it, someone said that “Chanukah isn’t the Jewish Christmas.” They’re so right–why do we lower ourselves and our beliefs and celebrations and make them seem less than they really are? I’ve never been one who loved Chanukah, even though it’s most people’s favorite holiday. Why? Because most people love Chanukah because they get presents, and I don’t think that’s what a holiday should be about. A holiday should be about what it celebrates and commemorates, not what the modern world has come to view it as. Chanukah is about the Jewish people fighting against the evil in the world with light and that’s what we, the Jewish people, are all about. We are about igniting the flame of brightness, of hope, of positivity, in the world and keeping it burning. Our torch has been passed on for thousands of years–and it will constantly be passed on. How are we so sure? Because every Jew is his or her own torch. Every single one of us holds our very own flame of Jewish light, and we will never let go. Our flames will never go out, and we will keep lighting more and more until there is no darkness left in the world.
Our mission in this world is to light up as much of the world as we can–and that is why I am going back to America next year. The world needs my light, and so I will go to where it needs me.
I hope that next year’s Chanukah will be bright.
לשנה הבאה בירושלים.
Your light shining on,