December 30, 2008 / 3 Tevet 5769
Just prior to Operation Cast Lead in Southern Israel, the communities of Ottawa and Vancouver, Canada, granted scholarships to four students of Ethiopian origin residing at the San Diego - IBIM Student Village.
On Wednesday night, the fourth night of Chanukah, a festive celebration was held which included songs, speeches and contests relevant to the holiday. Of course, the event also featured food and candle lighting. The special surprise of the evening was when the distribution of “Chanukah gelt” (not chocolate coins!!) was announced for four Ethiopian students who, in the spirit of Chanukah, are truly “heroes” like the Maccabees millennia ago, as they manage to study and get settled in an area that has come under fire.
The students were not aware of the scholarships and they were taken completely by surprise. As their names were called one by one and explained to the audience – their peers, teachers and special guests –the reason for their receiving this scholarhsip recognizing their achievement, the room was filled with joy, contributing immeasurably to the general holiday spirit.
Employees of the Strauss food company, whose factory is situated in the neighboring town of Sderot, joined us for the event. They came with their families and were given the honor of lighting the Chanukah candles. The employees also brought food as a generous gift to the students.
This was, indeed, a most joyous Chanukah filled with light and happiness!