Light and Courage: A Chanukah Celebration of Gratitude and Resilience at IDF Base

In the midst of a challenging time for Israel, a remarkable Chanukah celebration illuminated the Pikud Mercaz military base in northern Jerusalem on the night of December 11, 2023. Organized by United with Israel (UWI), this event was not just a celebration of the Festival of Lights but a profound expression of gratitude to the valiant soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Amidst the ongoing war with Hamas, following the tragic events of October 7th that resulted in the loss of over 1200 Israeli lives, this Chanukah celebration was imbued with extraordinary significance. It was a testament to the nation’s fortitude and an affirmation of the IDF’s critical role in ensuring Israel’s safety and security.

The event was strikingly symbolic, featuring a menorah crafted from Hamas rockets – a poignant representation of Israel’s resilience and the transformation of adversity into strength. This symbolic menorah lighting ceremony was a powerful reminder of Israel’s enduring spirit in the face of challenges.

The celebration brought together Israeli soldiers and civilians, including American immigrants, in a show of unity and mutual support. The base commander and Michael Gerbitz of UWI gave inspiring speeches, highlighting the bravery of Israel’s modern-day Maccabees and the miracles of Chanukah that continue to resonate in these trying times.

The atmosphere was one of joy and camaraderie, enhanced by a sumptuous barbecue, entertaining games, and a lively DJ. The soldiers and visitors engaged in friendly competition and shared laughter, reinforcing the bonds of community and shared purpose.

A particularly moving aspect of the evening was the outpouring of gratitude from the visitors to the soldiers. This interaction underscored the deep connection between the IDF and the wider Israeli community, a bond that is especially poignant during times of conflict.

The event also included practical support for the IDF, with UWI presenting essential supplies to the base. This gesture was a tangible expression of UWI’s commitment to supporting the soldiers who safeguard Israel.

A highlight for some guests was an exclusive tour of the base’s intelligence operations, offering insight into the vital and often unseen work that goes into protecting the nation. This experience left the visitors with a deeper appreciation of the IDF’s critical role in ensuring Israel’s security.

The night culminated in a joyous dance, uniting soldiers and visitors in celebration and solidarity. It was a scene of jubilation, reflecting the indomitable spirit of the Israeli people and their defenders.

This year’s UWI-sponsored Chanukah event at the IDF base was more than just a party; it was a powerful statement of resilience, unity, and unwavering support for those who defend Israel. The global community’s backing, evidenced by heartfelt messages from international donors, highlighted the enduring bond between Israel and its supporters worldwide.

In these challenging times, the celebration served as a beacon of light and hope, embodying the true spirit of Chanukah and the enduring strength of the State of Israel and its people.