Four rabbis’ Chanukah reflections

"Within this turbulence, the festival of Chanukah remains a guiding light, symbolising unity, resilience and the victory of light over darkness says," Rabbi Shua Solomon.

Photo: Noel Kessel
Rabbi Shlomo Nathanson.


Rabbi Shlomo Nathanson

Toorak Shule

Rabbi Shlomo Nathanson.

As I think about what it will mean to light my Chanukah menorah this year – a tradition held by Jews for thousands of years – I feel that this year will be different, because everything feels different at the moment.

But at the same time, it is very much the same. We will continue to light the menorah as we always have and by reflecting on the meaning, significance and lessons of this beautiful tradition, we can appreciate how very relevant and poignant the meaning of this mitzvah is for us today.

We light the Chanukah candles to recall several miracles that transpired.

The little band of Hasmoneans were victorious over the huge Syrian army, the dedication of the Temple that followed and of the rekindling of the menorah, where a small quantity of oil lasted for many days.

This chapter of our history repeats itself frequently, and right now we are living through the challenges and victory to come, right before our very eyes.

So, as we celebrate Chanukah and light our menorahs this year, we can remind ourselves that through our distress, we must be like the faithful band of Hasmoneans.

We must remember that there is always a drop of ‘pure olive oil’ hidden deep in the heart of every Jew, which, if kindled, bursts into a big flame.

This drop is the ‘Perpetual Light’ that must, and will, pierce the darkness of our present night.

We all have a role to play in this. It is when we unite together, while each playing our individual roles of spreading the light we have within us, that we can collectively dispel the darkness, get rid of the evil and pave a path towards a bright, unified and peaceful world.

Am Yisrael Chai.


Rabbi Daniel Rabin

Caulfield Hebrew Congregation

Rabbi Daniel Rabin.

I find myself reflecting deeply on the significance of Chanukah in the shadow of the current challenges our community and the world, face.

This year, Chanukah takes on a profound and personal resonance, as we navigate through the turmoil of conflict between Israel and Hamas, a distressing rise in antisemitism and the heart-wrenching reality of hostages and IDF soldiers in the throes of battle.

Chanukah, in its essence, is a story of faith, resilience and the triumph of light over darkness.

The menorah’s lights, which we kindle in our homes and shules, are not just a remembrance of a miracle from long ago, but a living symbol of hope and courage in our times.

Each flame represents an act of defiance against despair and a testament to the enduring strength of our community.

As we light these candles, we remember not only the Maccabees’ struggle for religious freedom, but also empathise deeply with those currently enduring conflict, fear and loss.

Our thoughts turn to the soldiers still on the battlefield and their families waiting with bated breath for their safe return.

The flickering lights remind us of the fragile, yet resilient nature of peace and the need for its constant nurturing.

This Chanukah, let us also use the warmth of these lights to confront the chilling rise in antisemitism.

In a world where hatred can spread faster than ever, our collective response must be one of unwavering solidarity and education.

The menorah’s light, symbolising knowledge and wisdom, challenges us to dispel ignorance and prejudice with understanding and dialogue.

In my role as a rabbi, I have witnessed the power of community and faith in overcoming adversity.

Chanukah provides a unique opportunity for us to come together, not just in celebration, but in a shared commitment to making the world a better place.

It urges us to transform the pain and challenges into opportunities for growth, unity and peace.


Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio

Emanuel Synagogue

Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio.

Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, once said: “In Israel, if you don’t believe in miracles, you are not a realist.”

Israel is a miracle, the Jewish people are a miracle and this year, as we come to celebrate Chanukah, the festival of miracles, we are in need of a miracle.

When we light the Chanukah candles, we remember the oil that should have lasted only one day, but instead burned for eight.

There is clearly something magical about the seven extra days, but what was the miracle of the first day?

Why do we celebrate that oil that should have burned for one day, burned for one day? Not much of a miracle!

But there was a miracle – not the big sea-splitting, bush-burning type – but the quieter, more powerful kind: the miracle of hope.

Despite the fact there was only oil for one day, they lit the lamp anyway.

They did not despair, they did not give up, they believed that a small ray of light, shining in the darkness, could illumine more than the space inside the Temple.

It was a symbol of their victory: their belief that there could be a better tomorrow, that they could stand against injustice and bring the light back into the world.

And every year, when we light our Chanukiah on the first night, we become the miracle.

When we light that candle with faith and hope, we are part of the miracle that, today – thousands of years after the Maccabees – Jews all around the world find a reason to light that first candle.

And we join together across oceans, connect with one another, with our past, our hopes and dreams and vision of a future with peace, justice and blessings.

This year we need to feel hope, to join our lights together and cover the earth in a canopy of peace.

And if we do, we can all not only believe in the miracle, we can be it.


Rabbi Shua Solomon

Bondi Mizrachi Synagogue

Rabbinical Council of NSW president

Rabbi Shua Solomon.

As the glow of the chanukiah permeates homes, this Chanukah arrives amid Israel’s trying times.

Yet, within this turbulence, the festival of Chanukah remains a guiding light, symbolising unity, resilience and the victory of light over darkness.

The tale of Chanukah embodies the indomitable spirit of a determined few against overwhelming odds.

Today, as Israel confronts challenges, the festival’s symbolism holds profound significance.

Each candle signifies our shared pledge to dispel darkness through unity, standing steadfastly in support of Israel and the valiant soldiers of the IDF.

Menachem Begin, one of Israel’s greatest leaders, once articulated, “Peace is the beauty of life. It is sunshine. It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family. It is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth.”

His words encapsulate the spirit of Chanukah – an affirmation not solely of survival, but also of the enduring values that bind us, emphasising our wish to live in peace as a sovereign people in our own land.

However, like the Hasmoneans in the story of Chanukah, Israel’s continuous search for peace has meant that we at times need to do battle against the greatest forces of darkness.

It is at this time that we see the great strength and resilience of our people to fight against the barbaric enemy, for the sake of our land and the Jewish people across the world.

This Chanukah, let us ignite not only the flames of the menorah, but also the flames of unity, support and perseverance.

As we gather with loved ones, let our celebrations resonate with unwavering solidarity for Israel.

May the chanukiah’s radiance embolden us to spread kindness, support and prayers for Israel’s soldiers and citizens, uniting us in our shared commitment to illuminate the world.

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