Hanukah Reading for Synagogues
by Rabbi Ed Feld
In the time of the Maccabees, King Antiochus, forced Hannah, a simple Jewish mother to watch as each of her seven sons were tortured before her eyes. Neither she nor her sons ever betrayed their faith. They died sanctifying the Holy Name.
We, their descendants, light the candle of freedom and remember their sacrifice.
In the time of the Romans, the students of Eliezer ben Hyrcanus watchedtheir master being wrapped in a Torah, wet sponges were put over hisextremeties, so that the fire would be prolonged as he was burntalive. “Master what do you see?” they asked. “The scroll is burningbut the letters are dancing in the air,” he replied
His colleague, Rabbi Akiva, had his flesh pulled from his body. “Master,” asked his students, “Is this the reward for the study of theTorah?” “This is what it means to devote one’s life to Torah,” hesaid, reciting the Shema and dying with a smile on his face.
We their descendants light the candle of freedom, study and teach their Torah and remember their sacrifice.
When the Jewish women of Spain were tortured on the rack, they triedvaliantly not to betray the members of their household. Though eachturn of the wheel made the pain ever more excruciating, they tried toreveal only the most minimal information. Often their inquisitors wereconfounded
We, their descendants, light the candle of freedom and remember their pain and sacrifice.
And in this past century, Jews were subject to the most terriblephysical suffering. Beaten, starved, the subject of medicalexperiments, those who survived stare at us with sunken eyes and ask usnot to forget. In the immediate aftermath of the war, that stareforced the world to face what had been wrought and so nations great andsmall agreed upon a Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirming thebasic dignity of all human beings and outlawing the use of torture.
We their descendants, light the candle of freedom and remember this pledge to those who suffered so mightily.
Today as we light these candles of freedom and remember our ancestorswho suffered pain and torture at the hands of so many foes, we resolvethat we will oppose the use of torture everywhere in the world and mostespecially when committed by our government.
We will always remember what was done to us and so we light the candle of freedom.