By Rabbi Reuven Hammer, Jerusalem, Israel
Tzur Yisrael V'Goalo – Rock and Redeemer of Israel –
As we kindle the lights of Hanukkah – tonight reaching the sacred number seven – the flames in our hanukiyah merge with the seven that burned each evening in the ancient Menorah the Maccabees rekindled at this time in ancient days. That was the 'eternal flame' symbolizing Your Eternal Presence in this world, a Presence that is felt with even greater intensity in the land of our ancestors, restored to us once again.
As You were with our ancestors in their struggle for religious freedom against those who sought to destroy Judaism from within and without, so be with us as we too defend our right to life freely as Jews within our own land and throughout the world. May the community of Israel dwelling in the Land of Israel come to embody once again the great ideals Judaism has taught to all humanity – the sacredness of all human beings created in the image of God, the love of the stranger, the care for the needy and above all the vision of universal peace so that the sound of war may vanish from our land and and the clash of arms be heard no more. Amen