Chanukah, the festival of lights. The celebration of the Jewish victory over the Hellenists and the ultimate survival of the Jewish people.
Today we marvel at the thought of a Jewish ruffian, standing up to the ruler of the land and saying No. We call Judah Maccabi a hero, we hail him, remember him and celebrate his victory. But what about modern day Maccabis, what about the men and women who fought and continue to fight for Jewish values and Judaism?
Historically, modern day Maccabis have been shunned. Take, for example, Vladamir Jabotinksy. The following is from the Wikipedia entry for Jabotinksy:
“During the 1930s, Jabotinsky was deeply concerned with the situation of the Jewish community in Poland. In 1936, Jabotinsky prepared the so-called ‘evacuation plan’, which called for the evacuation of the entire Jewish population of Poland to Palestine. In 1936, Jabotinsky toured Eastern Europe, meeting with the Polish Foreign Minister Colonel Józef Beck; the Regent of Hungary, Admiral Miklós Horthy, and Prime Minister Gheorghe Tătărescu of Romania to discuss the evacuation plan. The plan gained the approval of all three governments, but caused considerable controversy within Polish Jewry, on the grounds that it played into the hands of Polish anti-Semites. In particular, the fact that the ‘evacuation plan’ had the approval of the Polish government was taken by many Polish Jews as indicating Jabotinsky had gained the endorsement of what they considered to be the wrong people. The evacuation of Jewish communities in Poland, Hungary and Romania was to take place over a ten-year period. However, the controversy was rendered moot when the British government vetoed it, and the World Zionist Organization‘s chairman, Chaim Weizmann, dismissed it. Two years later, in 1938, Jabotinsky stated in a speech that Polish Jews ‘were living on the edge of the volcano’ and warned that a wave of bloody super-pogroms would be happening in Poland sometime in the near future. Jabotinsky went to warn Jews in Europe that they should leave for Palestine as soon as possible.”
Of course the Jews of Poland looked at Jabotinksy as a nutball, they ignored his warnings and were ultimately marched to the Gaz chambers of various concentration camps.
Jabotinksy was a failed Maccabi, he put himself forward but was unable to guide the troops and furthermore, when the Irgun lost the power struggle against the Hagganah, Jabotinsky, who died in 1940, was soon forgotten.
Simon Weisenthal was another Maccabi. After surviving the death factories of Germany, Weisenthal went on to form an institute dedicated to the hunting of Nazi murders. Weisenthal was instrumental in the hunting and capture of Nazis Adolf Eichman and Karl Silberbaur.
While honoured extensively, Weisenthal failed to ignite the spirit of the Jewish people of North America to pressure their governments (notably Canada and the US) who had and still have a dismal record of persuing Nazi war criminals.
Rabbi Meir Kahane was a controversial character. The Founder of the Jewish Defense League, an organization dedicated to protecting Jews in New York City and bringing the plight of Russian Jews to the forefront.
While noble for the feat of transforming pacifist 1960 era New York Hippies into a militant fighting machine, Kahane failed to gain mass North American appeal. His Maccabian revolutionary stance was overshadowed by what mainstream Jews perceived, rather than the reality.
Kahane’s transition from the streets of New York to the Israeli Knesset and the publication of dozens of books, didn’t quell the lies about his philosophy, some which continue to be repeated today. These lies, some contrived by other Israeli political parties, contributed to him being banned from the Knesset in 1988.
Kahane failed as a true Maccabi, simply because North American and by extension, Israeli Jews refused to accept a strong, charismatic Jew who was able to physically defend himself. The week before his murder in 1990 by Al Queda, Kahane stated in an interview that if he was going to be assassinated, it would be by Jew. He was killed by an Arab, El Sayid Nossair, after giving a speech in New York City. Nossair, acquitted of the Kahane murder, was later arrested in the Al Queda plot to blow up the World Trade Center in New York in 1993.
These three failed Maccabis are just a few of many that have come and gone, but have been unable to ignite the Jewish spark in mainstream Jews.
Would we accept a Maccabi today? Probably not. Julius Cesar said it the best, ‘if you leave the Jews alone, they will turn on each other and self destruct’.
Intermarriage is at over 50%, and climbing, Jewish family values have disintegrated and Kosher eating has declined. The Jewish world is at a sorry state, I could only hope that a Maccabi will arise and return us to our former glory. If not, I’m afraid we may be doomed.
May the lights of the menorah be a shining beacon upon the nations.