Hanukkah begins on Saturday, community plans for a celebration
Dec 06, 2012 | 904 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BRATTLEBORO- On Saturday night, December 8, the first of the eight candles of Hanukkah will be lit. Because Chanukah falls near Christmas, many people mistakenly think that it is a Jewish version of Christmas. However, the meaning and origin of the two holidays are quite different.

In 165 B.C.E., under the penalty of death, Jews were prohibited from studying sacred texts or celebrating Jewish holidays. Also, the holy temple had been defiled with pagan rituals, and they had been ordered to worship other gods. Maccabees, a small group of faithful Jews, managed to drive the Syrian army out of Jerusalem and reclaim their temple. Within the temple, there was a huge menorah that had to be lit. This light was supposed to remain always lit within the temple. But the sacred olive oil needed to burn in the menorah took eight days to prepare. And there was only a one-day supply of oil on hand. They decided to light the flame anyway. And, a great miracle occurred. The oil burned continuously for eight days, long enough for new oil to be purified.

Therefore, Hanukkah has been celebrated for eight days to recall the miracle when the menorah burned for eight days with only one day’s supply of oil in the temple. This Festival of Lights is marked by lighting chanukiot, special eight-branched candelabras with a ninth branch for a so-called “helper” candle, and playing with a driedle, a four-sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side that represent the phrase “A great miracle happened there.” Also, latkes (potato pancakes) and soofganiyot (doughnuts) are eaten on Hanukkah because they are fried in oil, to symbolize the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days instead of one.

The Brattleboro Area Jewish Community will be celebrating Hanukkah on Friday evening, December 15, the last night of Hanukkah, with “Latkes and Lights,” starting at 6 pm. Bring a menorah and candles to light at 6 pm. Then, as prepared latkes are warming in the oven, there will be a brief service to welcome Shabbat. The service will be followed by stories, music, songs, dreidel-playing, and a potluck supper. Bring already-cooked latkes and/or salad to share. BAJC will provide applesauce, sour cream, and drinks.

For more information visit www.bajcvermont.org.
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