For more than 1,000 years, the dreidels that Jews spun around the globe had the same four letters on them: ‘nun’, ‘gimel’, ‘Heh’, ‘shin’. These were an acronym for the Hebrew words – Nes Gadol Hiya Sham, A great Miracle Happened There. Some say it was the miracle of the oil, others say it was the military miracle of the Macabees success.
But then, in 1948, a new dreidle appeared on the scene that did not have a ‘shin’, but rather a ‘peh’. For with the recreation of the modern state of Israel, the new Jews living in the land adapted the motto to Nes Gadol Hiya Po (with the letter Peh). For once again, for the first time in millennia, Jews had sovereign control of the same land for which our ancestors had fought. And with this change of letter, there was a subtle third option of what miracle we were spinning dreidel for: the State of Israel itself.
Hundreds of Jewish generations prayed for it, teenagers left the Pale of Settlement to drain swamps for it, and our sons and daughters died for it. What was the Great Miracle? That today, against all odds and with Divine providence, there is a sovereign Jewish state.
Over these next few months we will be advertising the opportunity to come with Temple Emanu-El to Israel this June. We are a Reform Zionist congregation, and proud of it. Our trip to Israel will connect you, and your family, to your Judaism and your people in a way that can only be described as ‘profound’. Plus, its tons of fun.
Please send me a quick note (Sanderson@TempleEmanuelAtlanta.com) if you would like to have a conversation about our trip to Israel this summer.
Happy Hanukkah & Shabbat Shalom