In Israel, Hanukkah Begins in the Shadow of Two Months of War

Israelis gathered once more on Thursday night in the Tel Aviv sq. the place for 2 months protesters have referred to as for the launch of hostages in Gaza, however this time they got here to mark the begin of Hanukkah.

Holding indicators that bore the faces of the 138 individuals nonetheless held hostage and sporting T-shirts, necklaces and yellow bracelets that demanded “bring them home now,” the attendees stated this yr’s Hanukkah was not a vacation to remain house, however one to assemble and assist each other.

“Perhaps there’s something in the power of getting together,” Julia Ferment stated. “Perhaps some of this energy, this strength, gets to them.”

Relatives of hostages, teams of mates and troopers huddled quietly near an extended desk with 138 candles, one for every lacking beloved one. Family members and mates had been invited to mild the yellow candles. Afterward they had been embraced as they moved to the entrance of the crowd.

The Hanukkah blessings, which in Jewish custom are repeated on eight nights, held a brand new which means for the a whole bunch that sang alongside, some with tears in their eyes, some with their eyes sealed shut, arms on coronary heart.

Just a few miles south in Ramla, one other group of Israelis gathered to mark the starting of the vacation at a military base. The reservists, many with graying hair and households again house, delighted to seek out conventional Hanukkah pastries — jelly doughnuts referred to as sufganiyot — ready for them after they walked into the warehouse for dinner. Another reservist had simply proudly sprinkled powder sugar on prime of the pastries.

Rabbi Arie Levin, a father of 11 who often works in Tel Aviv, gathered the group round the desk holding the doughnuts and a menorah. There’s so much of darkness, he stated, then pointed at the menorah, and right here’s a little bit mild. He lit a candle.

It was the third time he had lit a menorah that night time. He had already executed candles with one other group of troopers on the different facet of the base and with a bunch of individuals who had been dwelling in a Tel Aviv lodge, displaced from their houses in the north and the south of Israel. Soon, he would depart the military base to journey again house and be part of the households of hostages for one more candle lighting at a synagogue.

When the menorah was lit in Ramla, the troopers danced to a standard Hanukkah music. In Tel Aviv, the air was nonetheless when the candles had been aflame. Almost instantly, a voice in the again of the crowd began the chant that has echoed in this sq. for greater than 60 days.

“Now, now, now, now,” the individuals stated.

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