The story goes that when the Temple was re-dedicated, the Maccabees discovered that most of the olive oil needed to light the Temple's Menorah had been desecrated; what remained was only enough to keep the Menorah burning for one night. However, once re-lit, the Menorah burned bright not for one day, but for eight days - giving the Jews time to find and prepare a fresh supply of oil.
In the course of debating how to commemorate this miracle, two Rabbis argued about the proper order in which to light the flames. Rabbi Shammai suggested that eight candles should be lit on the first night, with one fewer each night, while Rabbi Hillel countered with the view that one candle should be lit on the first night, and an additional candle each of the following nights, until all eight candles stand together, burning, on the final night. Why? Because Rabbi Hillel believed such an order would symbolize the importance of increasing, not decreasing, light and goodness in the world.
We love this idea. We have always applied this philosophy in working for Israeli-Palestinian peace, and in advancing other Israeli progressive causes. Earlier this month, we fulfilled a promise to ourselves to again visit Israel and participate in the Americans for Peace Now Study Tour. We witnessed up close how APN and Israel's Peace Now movement work to increase light even at times of darkness, when the hope for peace shimmers but violence and belligerent policies threaten to blow it out.
Had you asked us fifty years ago if we would still need to be working for peace, well into our eighties, we would have surely said no.
But we have not given up. Nor shall we.
We are inspired by the tenacity of our fellow Peace Now and APN activists who persist in keeping hope alive and making peace happen, such as the young activists and leaders that we met in the Peace Now office in Tel Aviv.
But just like the Maccabees, who took it upon themselves to seek oil to keep the flame burning after those eight miraculous days, we, too, cannot rely on miracles to keep the hope and possibility of peace burning bright.
We can't do it alone. As the forces of darkness, the enemies of peace, redouble their efforts to deny Israelis and Palestinians the peace that they want and deserve, we too must step up our efforts and increase the light.
Please increase your giving this year. Help us support President Obama and Secretary Kerry in their effort to broker peace for Israel. Please help us enhance hope. Help us increase the light!
Lois and Dick Gunther
P.S. Two young American videographers, interning for APN in Israel, accompanied us on APN's Study Tour this year. They have produced this short video with highlights from the tour. Our favorite moments are the ones featuring Peace Now's young activists, conveying the vibrancy and the dedication of these wonderful people. They reassure us that our efforts of more than five decades are extended and enhanced by Israel's best.
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