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Remarks to Israeli Embassy Hanukkah Reception

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Remarks to Israeli Embassy Hanukkah Reception

Posted on December 7, 2010

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Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Thank you.

Madame Ambassador, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen—

It is an honour to be with you this evening, to celebrate the seventh night of Hanukkah—and to do so in the presence of a great Canadian, our first Jewish Cabinet minister, a man who served our country for forty years in the Parliament of Canada: the Right Honourable Herb Gray.

This evening, we take part in a cherished ritual. Hanukkah is a celebration of family, faith, and freedom for all Canadians, and lighting the menorah is part of the national life of our country.

As Canadians, we understand the Hanukkah story not as a simple retelling of history, but as a parable of freedom.

The triumph of the Maccabees, two thousand years ago, is a story of Jewish survival—and of human liberty. In the centuries since Antiochus desecrated the Temple and banned the study of Torah, his atrocities have been echoed with deadly symmetry.

Durant la Hanoukka, tous les Canadiens se rassemblent pour condamner toute forme de discrimination et de haine, notamment l’antisémitisme, et pour célébrer nos différences, et la liberté qui le permet.

Tonight, we observe Hanukkah in the shadow of loss. Our thoughts are with those who were displaced and dispossessed by the fires in Carmel, and with the families of those who perished. May their memory be for a blessing.

In a few minutes, as we light the menorah, we will hear the words of the second prayer:

She-a-sa ni-sim la-avo-te-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem bi-zman ha-zeh.

“Blessed art thou… who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days, at this time.”

In our time, we hope for miracles, yes, but we also hope for courage and righteousness, that we may defend the freedom of others, as we celebrate freedom ourselves.

On behalf of my party, my caucus, and all Canadians—Happy Hanukkah.

Chag sameach.

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