Hanukkah miracle: No cell phones while candles burn - and peace with more Arab states

One homebased miracle if it happens, and one foreign affairs miracle. Both seemed impossible once.

Sivan Rahav-Meir ,

Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meir
Eyal ben Ayish

"Shalom Sivan, we are friends of Rina Shnerb Hy"d, the teenager who was murdered in a terrorist attack a year and a half ago. After the attack, many initiatives were undertaken to commemorate her memory. One of them involved turning off your cell phone throughout the day. This was a subject with which Rina was greatly preoccupied. A reality where teenagers are always looking at screens bothered her, and she did not manage to achieve what she dreamed to do to change this situation.

This Hanukkah we embarked on a campaign for change. Many people forget that it is a custom to desist from all work after lighting the Hanukkah candles. In other words, to create a kind of 'Shabbat Island' as the night begins. Not to touch your cell phone, not to take a bunch of pictures to upload and share, but rather to sit opposite the candles, to really look at them, to notice what is around us, to sing, to enjoy time with family, to pray, to learn.

We have gotten many enthusiastic responses from those who have joined this initiative. Nothing really needs to be done. You simply put your cell phone aside before lighting the candles, although this may not be so simple these days. It was even decided to auction off a prize among the participants, yet the biggest prize is really the tranquility that is experienced while sitting next to the candles and gazing at them without distractions.

Good news

Mazel tov! In honor of the first night of Hanukkah, we received the good news that Morocco too will establish diplomatic relations with Israel. While commemorating next to the menorah our ancient victories over persecution, evil decrees, and humiliation, an additional Muslim state joined the growing list of nations that want to make peace with us.

A quarter of a million Jews made Aliyah from Morocco over the years, and for many of them this development was especially emotional. Bhutan followed and there may be more on the way.

Our children will grow up in a Middle East with a new map of travel possibilities. More and more countries, from the Gulf to the Maghreb, are recognizing and showing their esteem for Israel. We can all laugh about the influx of Israelis to Dubai, but the mutual enthusiasm and the mutual joy remind us of something important.

• Translation by Yehoshua Siskin