Festival of Lights recalls the historic miracle of the Second Temple | New

This year Chanukah, the festival of lights, began at sunset on November 28 and will continue until sunset on Sunday.

While the festival seems to bounce from year to year on the calendar, it is actually celebrated around the same time each year. The festival begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, which is based on a lunar cycle and does not correspond to the Gregorian calendar used by most countries around the world, which is a solar calendar.

Dr Laurie Ballew is the vice president of the Temple Israel congregation, and she said that Hanukkah (pronounced “HAH-nuk-kah”) began when the Jewish people took over the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE. , approximately 160 years before the birth of Jesus.

“Hanukkah celebrates renewal and redemption after the destruction of the Second Temple,” she said. “It’s a survival of the Jewish people. “

At the time, Jerusalem was part of the Seleucid Empire ruled by King Antiochus IV. In 198 BC.

During his reign, the Second Temple was plundered in 168 BCE, Jews were slaughtered, and Judaism was banned. The following year Antiochus IV ordered that an altar to Zeus be erected in the temple.

A Jewish man named Mattathias and his five sons – John, Simon, Eleazar, Jonathan and Judah – led a rebellion against Antiochus IV.

The following year Judah – known as Judah Maccabee or “Judah the Hammer” – took on the leadership role in the rebellion, which was successful in 164 BCE.

The temple was destroyed, but was renewed and dedicated again. However, there was only enough oil to keep the everlasting temple light on for one, maybe two days.

“It turned out that it lasted eight days,” Ballew said. “So it was a miracle.

“Here in the United States we sing a song that says, ‘A miracle happened over there,’ but in Israel, they sing the same song and it says, ‘A miracle happened here. The miracle is that the oil lasted for eight days.

The first day the oil was used in the Second Temple was Nislev 25 of that year, the day Hanukkah always begins at sunset.

To mark this miracle, Chanukah is celebrated with the lighting of a candelabra called a menorah. It contains nine candles: one for each of the eight days of oil, and a special candle to light the others, called a shammash (pronounced “SHAH-mish”).

A candle is lit each evening of the festival by the shammash (or “accompanying” candle), with a new candle lit each evening.

“The importance of oil is that we keep a light on, like we have here in our sanctuary,” Ballew said. “This is the ‘ner tamid’ (pronounced ‘nare tah-MEED’) – the eternal light, symbolizing our eternal belief, our honor and our oneness with the one God.”

Ballew said Chanukah is not a major religious holiday in Judaism.

“In the 70’s somehow it became more popular in the United States, and it’s a really fun party and a party for giving gifts,” she said. “But when it comes to religiosity – other holidays, we celebrate specific things about religion.

“As on Rosh Hashanah, the start of the year in the Jewish calendar, we show our commitment to God and our faith. Yom Kippur is the day of atonement when we will atone for our sins. We ask forgiveness from others so that we can turn around and ask God for forgiveness for any sin we have committed against a friend, neighbor, or someone we barely know. This whole day is a day of prayer and fasting.

Hanukkah is a bit lighter and more festive.

“On Hanukkah we turn on the lights and have parties and eat foods cooked in oil like donuts and potato latkes – potato cupcakes – to celebrate the survival of the synagogue. and the oil surviving for eight days until more oil can be had, ”she said. “So it’s a little different.”

The Israel Temple of Paducah had its Hanukkah services on Friday night via Zoom – not because of COVID-19 issues, but because its heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is under construction.

“Usually we would have a little Hanukkah party,” Ballew said. “Everyone would bring their menorah – which we call a hanukkiah (pronounced ‘HAH-noo-KEE-yah’) and we would light our candles together. Then we would have different types of food – maybe fried chicken, donuts, and potato latkes. “

For 2,185 years, the Jews celebrated the miracle of the recapture of the Second Temple in Jerusalem to those who desecrated it. It is a celebration to remember the strength of those whose faith was tested and the miracle that followed.

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