The powers of hope and prayer should never be underestimated. Similarly, the power of practical action and the implementation of resolution should occupy a large part of your day. We are reminded of the power of action as we reflect on the meaning of Hanukkah.
In Hebrew, the word "hanukkah" means "dedication." The name reminds us that this holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks almost 2,100 years ago.
In 168 B.C.E. the Jewish Temple was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of the god Zeus. This upset the Jewish people. Jewish resistance began in the village of Modiin, near Jerusalem. Greek soldiers forcibly gathered the Jewish villages and told them to bow down to an idol, then eat the flesh of a pig - both practices that are forbidden to Jews. A Greek officer ordered Mattathias, a High Priest, to acquiesce to their demands, but Mattathias refused. When another villager stepped forward and offered to cooperate on Mattathias' behalf, the High Priest became outraged. He drew his sword and killed the villager, then turned on the Greek officer and killed him too. His five sons and the other villagers then attacked the remaining soldiers, killing all of them.
Mattathias and his family went into hiding in the mountains, where other Jews wishing to fight against the Greeks joined them. Eventually they succeeded in retaking their land from the Greeks. These rebels became known as the Maccabees, or Hasmoneans.
Once the Maccabees had regained control they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem. By this time it had been spiritually defiled by being used for the worship of foreign gods and also by practices such as sacrificing swine. Jewish troops were determined to purify the Temple by burning ritual oil in the Temple's menorah for eight days. They discovered that there was only one day's worth of oil left in the Temple. They lit the menorah anyway and to their surprise the small amount of oil lasted the full eight days.
Do not allow your hopes and prayers to make you naïve. Do not become complacent because of talk of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). Continue to pursue and all forms of LEGAL relief possible. If a purported immigration lawyer is telling you something that sounds to good to be true. Guess what? It is. If a lawyer refuses to explain her strategy to you and draws smiley faces on a white board or tells you their strategy is their "magic", run out of their office; don't walk.
Do not hire someone to pursue relief that is unavailable at this time. To "open up a file" to purse a non-existent CIR related application is a waste of your time and hard-earned money. A credible lawyer will tell you that. To be cliché, you get what you pay for. And, if you are trying to save money on one of the most important decisions of your life to hire a paralegal that is working illegally, you will suffer on account of it. For example, several people have hired us who have all been victimized by the same paralegal who works at a local immigration firm. And, this paralegal/attorney in the Philippines has been reported to the Attorney General's office on account of it.
Enforcement is on the rise. If you are TNT or an employer of TNT's, of course, you should be concerned. Your concern, however, should not result in your going into hiding because if it does, chances are you will not achieve the benefit you have hoped for all this time. Your concern should result in your trying to deal with the issues head-on. Find credible solutions to your problems. Doing the same thing undetected is not a solution.
Use the new year as a time for your own personal action. You needn't lead a revolutionary movement such as Mattathias. If you do, promise yourself (and me) that it won't be as lame as the "occupy" movements. Make a difference in your life or your family's life.
Imagine if the Macabees simply hoped and prayed for change and Mattathias didn't draw his sword. Our world would be a completely different place. Thankfully, the sword was drawn and the temple was liberated. And, with some hope and prayer superimposed upon practical application, one days' oil burned for eight.
We at Wilner & O'Reilly hope and pray that your holiday season and New Year is filled with health, happiness and light. More power!
Richard M. Wilner is a principal in the firm of WILNER & O'REILLY, APLC. He is Board Certified as a Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law by the State Bar of California's Bureau of Legal Specialization. He is a former Commissioner for the State Bar's Immigration and Nationality Law Advisory Commission. He serves as the military liaison for the Southern California Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyer's Association (AILA) and is a board member of the Orange County Jewish Bar Association. He holds a Certificate in International Law from the National University of Singapore, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from the University of Salzburg, Austria/McGeorge School of Law.