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Message from the President
In today’s sophisticated society, most people are a little embarrassed to speak of miracles. Miracles seem so much like “hocus pocus.” Therefore even in this Chanukah season, we rarely speak of the miracle of the oil. We concentrate on other aspects of the holiday and use buzz words and phrases that are universally respected such as liberation, freedom of religious worship, self determination, etc.
We find it is far more acceptable to speak of coincidence or natural events of nature that appear as miracles. For example, scientists have stated that the splitting of the Red Sea in Genesis could have been the natural result of a wadi that went dry. However, does that make the splitting of the sea any less of a miracle? Our sages have always said that since God created nature it is only natural that God would work miracles through nature not through any phony magician tricks. During this Chanukah holiday, a holiday that is the result of a miracle, let me share with you a true story of a miracle.
In 1939, just after the Germans had invaded a Polish town, a young Jew was assigned to work for the Nazis. The Jew had a younger sister whom he hid and somehow managed to feed with his meager food allowance. One evening as he returned home, an eerie silence hung over the streets, the result of a Nazi Aktion. When he reached his door, he noticed it open, his apartment looted and his sister missing. A gentile neighbor reported that the Nazis had taken her.
Without thinking, he ran to Gestapo headquarters. He was stopped by a German soldier who, amazed by the young Jew’s chutzpah, caustically asked, “What’s your wish Jew? To be shot, now?”
The young Jew defiantly replied, “You took my sister. Give her back to me!”
The Nazi burst into laughter. “You Jews are strange creatures,” he cackled. You know Jew,” I’m going to surprise you. I’ll be good to you. I’ll return your sister if you can grow hair on the palm of your hand.”
The Jew opened up the palm of his hand and lo and behold it was covered with black hair. The Gestapo man looked confused and frightened. He began to shout wildly, “You Jewish Satan, you devil, here, take your sister and go. “ He went into the next room and pushed out the Jew’s sister and the two Jews ran and ran and ran. These two young people somehow survived the Shoah.
You may ask, “Did a miracle truly occur in the Nazi headquarters? Of course it did! When the Jewish man was a very young boy, he was apprenticed to a factory where his hand had been caught in a machine. In order to save his hand, skin was grafted from another part of his body. When he reached his teens, hair began to grow on the palm of his hand. So, the miracle was a natural miracle, a miracle based in science and rationality. Yet, two Jews surviving the Shoah was a miracle indeed.
When you tell the story of Chanukah to your children and grandchildren, don’t forget to talk about the miracle. Children should learn about miracles, because they happen all of the time. We women who have walked through Hadassah hospital surely believe in miracles. Hag sameah. Happy Chanukah!