The following was written by Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum as part of the Shearim newsletter. Shearim is an award-winning Russian outreach program in Netanya founded by Rabbi Birnbaum a quarter century ago. Rabbi Birnbaum continues to lead Shearim and to serve as rabbi emeritus of Bet Israel Masorti Congregation in Netanya.
68 years ago 640 thousand Jewish residents of Israel and tens of thousands throughout the globe were glued to the radio anxiously waiting for the results of the United Nations vote that could bring an end to two thousand years of homelessness of the Jewish People. On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for the Partition of the Land of Israel into a Jewish State and an Arab State in an attempt to rectify a historic injustice inflicted upon our People. Two-thirds of the world’s nations at the time understood that the Jews have an inalienable right to return to their ancestral Homeland where King David ruled, where King Solomon built the Temple, where the prophets chastised the people in unforgettable dramatic accents, from which they were driven by the Romans, to which they never stopped turning in their prayers, which became their portable Homeland irrespective of where their fate and foes drove them for temporary refuge. This was 68 years ago today.
And today, 68 years later, the United Nations has the temerity to wind up the year by passing 23 condemning resolutions, of which no less than 20 are chastising and censuring Israel for aggression in its glaringly evident attempt to merely safeguard the sovereignty granted to it 68 years ago by that august assembly. No less than 20 resolutions censuring Israel, and only 3 resolutions reserved for Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Mali, Tibet, Algeria, Sudan and other nations combined, involved in cruel fratricidal wars and acts of unspeakable terror. Which United Nations made sense and spoke in the name of truth and justice? Which United Nations is driving humanity toward self-destruction and oblivion?
Where is this world heading for? Could it still stop in its tracks, tear off its blindfolds, and readjust its compass? I fervently hope so. We are now precisely a week before Chanukah with its promise of light breaking through the darkness. It is but a tiny light, yet it manages to dispel tons of darkness. Does it hold out a glimpse of promise that mankind too shall yet be able to clamber out of the hole it dug for itself and reach out for the sun, for the stars?
I am quite certain, my friends, that all of you are joining me in the fervent prayer that man will yet regain his balance and learn to bask once again in the glorious light of justice and freedom. I trust in the promise of our tiny Chanukah lights that speak about miracles of yore – and miracles of today.