President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin on Tuesday morning 24 Kislev hosted at the President’s Residence, a Chanukah party for the children of Rachashei Lev which seeks to improve the lives of children with cancer, and that of their families.
The President lit the first light on the Menorah together with 17 year old Roey Ginat, who is blind having suffered from cancer as a baby. The President and First Lady posed for photos with the children and sung traditional Chanukah songs with them. They told them how proud they are of their strength and bravery in the face of terrible illnesses.
The President said, “Chanukah is celebrated in the heart of winter. The sun sets early, and it is cold outside. But for hundreds of years, we have refused to let this overwhelm us. Specifically the festival of Chanukah is the brightest and warmest of all the festivals. On Chanukah, we shrug off the darkness and warm our homes and hearts. The Maccabees fought for so long to purify and bring light to the Temple. The Maccabees are heroes of Jewish history, you are the heroes of our present. Your fight against illness, is no less courageous than that of the Maccabees. Hope, determination and faith, can overcome the darkness, and lead us to victory.
“We are commanded to light the candles at the entrance to our homes, so those passing will remember, the great achievements and bravery of the Maccabees. The light which emanates from the flames is intended to remind us all how faith and hope form the basis of all our deeds, even when the forces of darkness threaten to take over. Nechama, my wife, and I are excited and privileged to celebrate the holiday with you all, and we greatly enjoy the precious light you have brought into our home. We wish you all good health, joy, and hope.”
At the event, eleven year old Emily Imbar from Modi’in spoke on behalf of the children visiting. She spoke about her daily struggle with her illness and thanked the President for his warm words. She said, “I was a normal girl, just like all children. I liked to play in the park, to go to after-school clubs and play with my friends. But four and half years ago, I fell ill and my life changed. Instead of going to school, I go to hospital. The teachers, I have swapped for the team at ‘Rachashei Lev’, and my friends are those who sit with me here today. I wanted to thank the President and the First Lady for hosting us, it has really brought us enjoyment. It is a great honor to be here today especially, as we begin the festival of miracles, whose symbol is light and hope. I pray that I, along with all the children suffering, will have our own Chanukah miracle, and that next year we will all come together in health. Thank you and happy Chanukah.”
Over 130 children, parents, and caretakers attended the event, including the staff of ‘Rachashei Lev’, and its president, Prof. Tzvi Spirer.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)