Yaron Sideman

is consul general of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region

This week, Jews all over the world will celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah. It is a story of miracles and hope, epitomized by the lights of the menorah, where oil that should have lasted for only one day lasted instead for eight.

The story of the Maccabim, who led the victorious uprising against the Greek-Hellenistic empire in 167 BCE, has stood the test of time as a story of Jewish strength, attainment, and faith. As families gather over the menorah to light candles this year, it is with an eye to current world events that will shape our thoughts and prayers.

Today our Western values and freedoms are being challenged by forces that seek to take humanity back to its darkest days. These atrocious acts behoove us all to be modern-day Maccabees and stand up for the values of life, freedom, and democracy all over the world.

In light of terrorist attacks that took place on the streets of Paris, Mali, Turkey, Nigeria, and Israel, the international community must face this threat with as much determination and resolve as the original Maccabees did. The stories of Israel and Philadelphia are perfect illustrations of that much-needed determination and resolve.

In many ways we are still living the miracle of Hanukkah, here in Philadelphia, where liberty for the United States was born, and in Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people. The very same Jerusalem that was liberated by the Maccabees more than 2,000 years ago stands today, proud and strong as the capital of modern Israel.

Celebrating Hanukkah as a representative of Israel in Philadelphia is an extremely inspiring and uplifting experience that impresses upon me the need to continue protecting those liberties we are privileged to enjoy. I wish all Philadelphia families a safe and happy holiday season.