Gather the family for the Festival of Lights
From December 8, to December 16, at sundown, Jews all over the world will celebrate the Festival of Lights. Chanukah, or Hanukkah, depending upon what part of the world you live, is not a sacred holiday, but a Festival of Joy and Lights, and also of Freedom from Oppression. Parties and sweets are enjoyed. But do you know the story?
By the way, you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this holiday. Children are love it, because every night they get a gift, and one of the Best Gifts is Hanukkah Gelt…money. Go into any card shop and you will see little envelopes, next to the cards. It is an exciting time for Jews.
Before I get too excited, I will tell you the story. A Tiberian word, pronounced (Xanukah), it refers to the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the Second Century BCE. According to the Talmud, (Holy Book), there are many different stories, but the one the prevails is that the new Temple’s altar had to be liberated and re-dedicated after the revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. Judah ordered the Temple to be cleaned in place of the old polluted one, (a bit like saging, or cleansing the energy), and Olive oil was needed for the candles to burn for one full night. Imagine their shock, when the candles continued to burn for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply for the “Menorah”. For this reason we light the Menorah, (a candle stick with 9 arms) over eight days.
Humanity loves Rituals, as they make us stop and reflect upon the moment of silence and respecting our Soul’s need for quiet.
The central candle is called the “Shamash” meaning “attendant.” On the first night, one candle is lit, and every night one additional candle is lit by the “Shamash” which signifies that one does not diminish our light, by lighting another. The candles are lit at sundown, and many schools and offices close early so the family can get together to celebrate. Every night, for 8 days, an extra candle is lit, and at the same time, another gift is given to the children of the family. At the same time, games are played, and Potato Latkes (pancakes) are prepared, by frying in oil, to celebrate the oil that was burning for eight days.
As a “Buddish” Jewish-Buddhist, I still enoy celebrating with my grandchildren. And I am always there for you, too. Please don't ever hesitate to call.
by Serena x7072