These are remarkable times — let us count the miracles

Well, we’ve just had the privilege of celebrating Chanukah for another year and so, among other things, reminding ourselves once again of the miracle that took place then.

As it happens, miracles play a role in many Jewish holidays. Indeed, it could be said that the very existence of the Jewish people to this day, all things considered, is itself a miracle. Indeed, as David Ben-Gurion once wisely observed, a Jew who doesn’t believe in miracles is not being a realist.

But miracles are not just historical facts or things to commemorate on holidays. Miracles, meaning remarkable things, happen all the time, all around us, though too often we simply fail to either notice or appreciate.

There have been many remarkable things coming our way lately.

For instance, the fact that Iraq is importing dozens of old buses from Israel. The Jerusalem Post has reported that about 150 Egged buses have been purchased by Iraq at a cost of $25,000 each.

Remarkable. Iraq, not very long ago, was a sworn enemy of the Jewish state, with Saddam Hussein giving $25,000 to the family of every suicide bomber. I’m not taking a position on the war here, on whether it is a good or bad decision. That’s for another time.

What I am saying is that considering what Iraq was, considering what the Arab world is, that Iraq is now spending its money on old Israeli buses as opposed to rewarding those who murder Israelis is a sight to behold. Remarkable.

As is the fact that it was just announced that the executive director of the Hillel at Tufts University has received a Grammy nomination for an album of Ugandan Jewish music.

For starters, I find it quite remarkable that there is such a thing as Ugandan Jewish music. That there is, and that I am surprised there is, is testimony mostly to my ignorance. But it is testimony, too, to just how remarkable the Jewish people are. Wherever they live.

And think how remarkable it is that an album of Ugandan Jewish music has been nominated for the most prestigious award given for music in this country, the most powerful in the world.

The Grammys are a big deal. And up for one of them is an album of Jewish music, Ugandan no less, put out by a rabbi. No less. Remarkable.

The rabbi is Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, and he produced, compiled and annotated “Abayudaya, Music from the Jewish People of Uganda.” It’s been nominated for best traditional world music album.

Remarkable, too, how France, the country Jews love to unfairly hate, keeps trying so hard to help us. The latest of dozens of examples of that came recently when French educational authorities ordered a school to organize an interfaith awareness event after students insulted a local rabbi.

Seems that a rabbi was giving a talk at the school when students began shouting “dirty Jew” and other anti-Semitic comments in Arabic. As a result, all students will be required to attend a meeting that will be addressed by the rabbi, a local priest and a local imam.

Remarkable. “Apart from condemning this horrible act, it is important that the whole high school participate in this action of condemnation and in the establishment of a climate of respect and tolerance,” said the region’s education chief.

And speaking of France, remarkable, too, is that Israel’s ambassador to the country recently spoke the truth. Even though the truth in this case is not what Jews want to hear and goes against the tendency of Jews to always see the worst in everything and anything, to see unbridled Jew hatred everywhere.

Recently, France’s ambassador to Israel told Israeli radio that there was a “sort of anti-French neurosis” in Israel. Naturally, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which is headed at the moment by the most unqualified foreign minister in the history of the Jewish state, typically reacted by criticizing what the French envoy said, calling it a breach of diplomatic decorum.

What it was the truth. And something Israelis and Jews need badly to hear so that we stop our ridiculous obsession with France when France is doing so much to be on our side. Thankfully, Nissim Zvilli, Israel’s man in France, said he agreed with the French envoy that Israelis have a negative fixation with France.

It’s good to see a Jewish official not just take the Jewish politically correct way or pander to the masses. We need to hear the truth far more than we do from our officials.

One more remarkable thing of late. Two Israelis recently traveled to Stockholm to pick up their Nobel Prizes.

Remarkable. Jews make up a tiny percentage of the world’s population and Israelis make up even less. But there were two Israelis, two Jews, receiving the most prestigious scientific prize in the world. As Israelis, as Jews. One with the first name of Aaron, the first high priest, one with the first name of Avram, the first Jew.

Remarkable. Simply remarkable.

Joseph Aaron is editor of the Chicago Jewish News, where this column previously appeared.