Heroes Then and Now

(Miriam AlsterFLASH90)

The Yom Tov of Chanukah is a time of great joy for Klal Yisrael as we celebrate the miracles merited by the Chashmona’im. While more than 2,000 years have passed since the nes Chanukah originally occurred, the battles waged by those lofty spiritual warriors continue — on many different fronts — until this very day.

Ironically, among the contemporary spiritual heroes and heroines are those who find celebrating Chanukah to be particularly challenging. They are the hundreds in our community who are marking their first Chanukah after the crushing petirah of their spouse or parent during the COVID epidemic. Each and every one has their own story to tell of the specific obstacles they faced, but the common denominator they share is the emunah and bitachon they exhibit.

As a family time filled with special memories, it took enormous fortitude for grieving widows to pull themselves together for the sake of their young children, put on a warm smile and do all they could to make the Chanukah licht lighting an uplifting and joyous experience.

It took much bravery for shattered grandparents to be able to put aside their own anguish, to be there for their grandchildren, as they faced the first Chanukah as orphans.

It took moral strength for a daughter-in-law to encourage her husband to leave her and her children for Chanukah, telling him that her newly widowed mother-in-law, who is alone overseas, needed him to be at her side to light the Chanukah menorah this year. It took a deeply rooted sense of duty for her husband to leave his wife, and children, and his Rebbe, to make the long journey to be there for his mother.

Among the other unsung heroes are the divorcees among us who overcome significant obstacles as they raise their children alone, often with little moral and material support. Particularly inspiring are those who set aside the hurt in their own hearts, and encourage their children to reach out to and maintain a close relationship with the other parent — their ex-spouse.

The supporting cast of these heroes include extended family members and close friends who in a tactful and caring way do all they possibly can to lend a helping hand and a listening ear. Regardless if their invitations to a Chanukah party and Shabbos seudos are accepted, they send a clear message of caring and are certainly appreciated.

The dedicated volunteers — whether affiliated with an established organization or acting on their own initiative — who generously give of their time to take yesomim to shul and ensure that they have whom to learn with at an Avos Ubanim program — send a most powerful message of their own.
Chanukah will shortly conclude, but the trials and tribulations facing these heroes will continue. Let us draw inspiration from their courage and redouble our efforts on their behalf.