Nes Gadol Hayah B’Lake Placid

Understanding miracles is difficult in our time. None of us have witnessed a great sea being split, a burning bush that didn’t burn, or a teeny drop of oil lasting for eight days (the question as to whether anyone saw these is a whole other story.)

However, the celebration of Hanukkah is one of miracles. Whether we choose to believe the tale of the oil or look to historical evidence of the Maccabean revolt, the holiday centers around believing in something bigger than ourselves.

With that I share the new ritual of a friend, who spends his Hanukkah trying to understand what miracles look like in modernity:

As written by Howard Tilman.

The holiday of Hanukkah begins tonight and many around the world will begin to celebrate the Festival of Lights. Candles will be lit, dreidels will be spun and latkes will be fried. However for myself, I enjoy most of all a more modern form of celebrating.

At its center, Hanukkah is the celebration of a great miracle. The four sides of the dreidel tell us “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,” a great miracle happened there–the story of an improbable military victory the Maccabees-led army won over the Greeks. While a miracle event of such magnitude can not be found in modern times, the term miracle itself does have a distinct connotation, especially in the world of sports.

In February of 1980 the world of sports was briefly centered on Lake Placid, NY, for the 13th Winter Olympic Games, the highlight of which is now known as the “Miracle on Ice.” The United States hockey team, a collection of college athletes, all amateurs and all far less experienced than most of the other competitors, began the games with an impressive run through the round robin portion of the contest.

Advancing to the medal round, the US team faced off against the Soviet Union, a team that for all intents and purposes was as professional as one could be in the Soviet Union. The odds were almost immeasurably stacked against the United States when the two teams met in the semi-finals of the medal round on February 22nd.

Posted on December 4, 2007

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