Sunday, December 1, 2013

Efrat and Chanukah

My hometown of Efrat is especially connected to Chanukah. We’re like this! (Okay, I know you can’t see my fingers, but they’re as close together as they can be!)
Yes, I know all of Israel loves Chanukah. I know we are all proud of the bravery and faith of the Chashmonaim. We all tell their stories to our children, and marvel at their victories. Everyone in the world knows the miracle of the little jar of oil.
But Efrat puts its “money where its mouth is” where Chanukah and the Holy Temple are concerned.
Our Zayit hill is packed with references to both Chanukah and the Temple. I know that many folks head to Modiin to uncover our connection to the Chanukah story, but I invite you to join me in a walk around Efrat.
In Efrat, Rechov Matityahu HaCohen honors the father and founder of the revolt against the Syrian-Greeks.
Rechov Yehuda HaMaccabee and Rechov Yonatan HaChashmonai recall two of Matityahu’s five sons who led the Jewish people in overthrowing the occupying forces of the Syrian-Greeks. (Who were the other three? Yochanan, Shimon and Elazar.) The Chashmonaim dynasty ultimately lasted for 100 years. (It ended when the megalomaniac king Herod “killed every member of the house of the Chashmonaim in order to claim the throne of Judea for himself.”)
Rechov Menorah commemorates the menorah that stood in the Holy Temple – first the golden menorah, then the simple menorah of the Chashmonaim, and one day, IY”H, the magnificent menorah of the Third Temple.
Rechov Zeit Shemen reminds us of the oil that was used daily in the Menorah. (And also the little jar of pure oil that Yehuda HaMaccabbee found in the Temple.)
And Rechov Nataf and Rechov Tziporen stand for two of the spices used in the Temple’s holy of holies. In Efrat today, as in Jewish history, Nataf and Tziporen are attached Rechov Ketoret, the incense offered twice a day on the Temple’s Golden Altar. The incense with its eleven very-varied spice ingredients parallels the unity of the Jewish people in serving G-d. We hope Efrat is a place that promotes that unity.

From different points on Efrat’s Zayit hill, we can see the site of the Holy Temple. One day soon, IY"H, we pray we will be able to stand on our hilltops and see the Temple itself and the light emanating from its golden Menorah. Until then, our longing for it continues to grow as we drive upon our streets, and raise our children in the legacy of Yehuda HaMaccabee, Matitiyahu HaCohen and our Holy Temple.

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