Just 11 minutes after Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, American President Harry S. Truman recognized the new State. This action marked the beginning of a relationship based on common values and characterized by a deep friendship and mutual respect.
The special relationship between Israel and the United States is a key element in Israel’s political strength and power. This relationship also has strategic significance for the State of Israel.
In the early 1980’s, Israel was considered to be a strategic asset for the United States and was noted as such (1987) in legislation passed a year earlier as its main non-NATO ally.
The friendship between Israel and the United States is bolstered by the supportive American Jewish community and large portions of the American people.
The Hanukkah festival marks the Maccabean victory over their enemies – the Hellenistic monarchy of the House of Seleucus, as well as the miracle that took place in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It is customary to light candles on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, setting them near the entrance to the home in order to make the miracle known.
In the year 167 BCE the Hellenistic king Antiochus IV forbade the Jewish residents of Eretz Israel to study the Torah and to perform the Jewish mitzvahs. Mattathias the Hasmonean and his sons led the people’s revolt against the cruel regime, and after harsh battles successfully freed Jerusalem and the Temple.
The Babylonian Talmud (tractate Shabbat 21:2) describes how the Maccabees found only one small cruse of pure oil, enough to light the Temple menorah for just one day. But a miracle occurred and the oil lasted for eight days, until more pure oil could be prepared. In honor of that miracle, it was determined that the festival would last eight days.
For the Jewish people, the Hanukkah candles symbolize the victory of good over evil and of justice over injustice.