The third night of Chanukah (2018) BeLev Echad IDF wounded veterans soldiers talk at our Modern-Day Maccabee event was more meaningful & personal than I expected. 

A key issue they shared was how their mental & emotional rehabilitation was harder & longer than their physical recovery. Yes, the drama of the combat they were in (some of which was familiar to us from the news from Israel) was riveting, but that wasn’t the point of their story last night. It wasn’t about the fight against the terrorist enemy but about the battle within themselves.

While (most) @ualbany students are not combat-soldiers, their messages of personal struggle, emotional turmoil, frustration, persistence and resilience, of the value of support, the need for both structure & escape — all resonated deeply with those present.

Being that this event was on Chanukah, I couldn’t help but realize #Chanukah comparisons. In contrasting Chanukah and Purim, Purim was about #Antisemitism against Jewish bodily existence, but #Chanukah was a threat against the Jewish soul. Purim is about physical survival, Chanukah is about spiritual thrival. There’s a cute way to remember this difference: #Purim has its twirling #Gragger (noisemaker) whose handle is below it (i.e. the physical, the body) while #Chanukah’s toy is the #Dreidel (spinning top) whose handle is above it (representing the spiritual, the soul).

Another interesting thing Ohad shared was how anger & frustration is often directed at parents or close family members. Ironically because you trust in their unconditional love & support, they bear the brunt of it. This is something we also see quite a bit, when students take their family for granted and don’t realize that their parents and families also have emotional needs that need to be met. 

They also spoke about the IDF’s greatest weapon being not a tank or gun, or some fancy hi-tech equipment, but motivation. Soldiers who feel they are protecting their homes & families. Soldiers as individuals and as units who see themselves as defending (as in IDF) the Jewish people and the Jewish homeland against constant ongoing threat to their existence. This applies beyond war to all areas of life: the will to live, impetus and drive are so much more important than any stuff.