A couple of weeks back, I found myself browsing the children's section of a local bookstore in our neighborhood, perusing the children's books in search of Chanukah presents for various friends and relatives. I came across a book (unfortunately I can't remember its title) that talked about a classic Chanukah story out of the holocaust. The children in the story find that their grandmother, a prisoner in a concentration camp, once made a Chanukah menorah out of a potato, and used butter as its fuel. The story is both poignant and inspiring - during the most terrible period for Jews in the last 100 years, people were still able to light the light of religious freedom, the spiritual light for the Jewish World. And here we are 60 or so years later and people are holding a conference to deny the very existence of the holocaust. If it were only Mohammed Ahemadnijad, who was there, it would not surprise me. If it were only anti-semites and neo-nazis who were in this room, it would still not surprise me, but what surprised me, is Yisroel Dov Weiss. (He would prefer you call him Rabbi, but even if he has truly earned that honorific, the very thought of his attendance at such a confluence of falsehood is enough reason to not even offer him as much respect as 'Mr.' - in fact I will call him Srulik - a diminutive form of Yisroel, because he isn't more than a little man).
How does Srulik justify his presence at this conference? How does a so-called Jew even gather up the chutzpah to even get on a plane - to IRAN no less - to lend even an air of credibility to something like this. Fear not dear Srulik, for you are nothing compared to my son. You see, on Friday night, my two-year old son, lit the menorah for the first time. I held my hand over his to guide the shamash as we recited the blessings over the menorah. She-asah Nisim La'avotainu Bayamim Haheym Ba'Zeman Ha'Zeh - Bless are you G-d .... who performed miracles for our ancestors in their days at this time [of year].
I look around the world and see that Jews aren't the world's best friend. Jimmy Carter's new book, Peace not Apartheid is a best seller. Ironically it comes from a man who wouldn't know what apartheid was if it slapped him in the face (maybe he should ask his daughter Amy). And of course, the failed war in Lebanon didn't win us any new friends either. In the wake of all of that's going on, things seemed a little gloomy for us Jews.
And then my sons lit their menorahs.
The world has been full of Carters, Ahamednijads and unfortunately, Srulik Weisses for many years, and it will still be for many years to come. But on Chanukah, we remind ourselves of G-d's eternal promise to the Jews - that as long as we stick to the basics, and do G-d's will, a small group of righteous Jews will always prevail against whatever villains come to taunt us, and try to sway world opinion against us.
Those 'Potato' menorahs were one of the many examples of how the light of Judaism still burned brightly while Six million Jews perished. And 60+ years later, those lights are now being kindled by the next generation, and hopefully for the next 300 generations. The Assyrians are long gone from the world political scene, and I am sure that, G-d willing, my great-great grandchildren will be lighting menorahs long after Ahamednijad and Carter's contributions to the world would be diminished to a paragraph in their history books. And when that happens, Srulik won't even be remembered at all.