We are all Maccabees
December 15, 2023
By Marc Brown

Before the candles burn out and we say goodbye to another Hanukkah, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the similarities between the events of approximately 2200 years ago and today.

When the Assyrian-Greeks (the “Greeks”) invaded, they began a mission to suppress the practice of Judaism while spreading idolatry and their Hellenistic ways. The Greeks created an environment where Jews were scared to openly practice their faith. However, one man from Modi’in (a small town between Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv), Mattiyahu, decided to take a stand and began a revolt when the Greeks forced him to publically engage in idolatry. One of Mattiyahu’s sons, Judah, became the leader of the Maccabees who were devout in their conviction and willing to fight against overwhelming odds.

While it would have been easy for the Maccabees to cave in when they were significantly outnumbered by the Greeks, they took a stand for what they believed was right. When the Maccabees arrived in Jerusalem, they rededicated the Temple and lit the menorah with pure oil that was enough to last for one day. However, the oil lasted for eight days, which was just enough time for new pure oil to be obtained to continue lighting the menorah.

Today across the world, we are facing a similar threat. Instead of the Greeks, it is a terrorist organization who wants to commit genocide against the Jewish Nation and use its own people as human shields to commit atrocities. While their terrorist proxy allies across the globe attempt to scare us, Jews continue to take a stand; Jews across all denominations and our allies are fighting terrorists whether through a rally in Washington or by contacting their elected officials to put an end towards hate rhetoric and antisemitism.

On a personal note, I am honored by the fact that my law firm, Goldberg Segalla LLP, was one of approximately 250 law firms across the United States who signed a letter to law school deans noting that we do not tolerate antisemitic harassment, vandalism, and assaults on college campuses. In the letter we noted that “[a]s employers who recruit from each of your law schools, we look to you to ensure your students who hope to join our firms after graduation are prepared to be an active part of workplace communities that have zero tolerance policies for any form of discrimination or harassment, … [and] trust [that] you will take the same unequivocal stance against such activities as we do.” I hope that our letter will result in law schools across the United States joining us in fighting antisemitism.

So, as we spin our dreidels for the last time signifying the “great miracle that happened there,” let us take a moment to reflect on the continued great miracles that are occurring every day across the globe, and pray to end violence at the hands of terrorists and, instead, create lasting peace with our neighbors.

Marc C. Brown is a partner with Goldberg Segalla law firm and co-chair of the firm’s Business and Commercial Group. Marc is also a Vice President of Buffalo Jewish Federation, a leader at Young Israel Synagogue, and serves as treasurer of the BVK – Buffalo’s Kashrut certification organization.

We are all Maccabees - Jewish Thought of the week 2022