Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Chanukah, Feast of Lights



Because Chanukah is not only a sacred celebration but a bright spot amid winter’s darkness, it is traditionally a joyous holiday occasion, celebrated with gift-giving, story-telling, singing, and games.


As darkness falls on Sunday, December 2, the Jewish community will be lighting the first candle of Chanukah, the Feast of Rededication. Each of the eight nights of Chanukah an additional candle is added to the m’norah, or Chanukah lamp, until the final night when all eight candles burn in a vivid display.

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This annual event commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem more than 2,000 years ago. The Book of Maccabees describes how the Seleucid Emperor Antiochus IV seized the Temple in 165 BCE and defiled it by offering a pig before an image of Jupiter. Two years later to the day, on the winter-solstice date of Kislev 25 on the Jewish calendar, the Aaronide priests began the eight-day ritual of purification to rededicate the Altar of God.

Because Chanukah is not only a sacred celebration but a bright spot amid winter’s darkness, it is traditionally a joyous holiday occasion, celebrated with gift-giving, story-telling, singing, and games. Because of an ancient legend that the priests were hard-pressed to find enough consecrated oil to light the m’norah, it is also the custom to eat treats prepared by frying (Chanukah is the doughnut’s moment to shine!). With all that light-hearted party spirit, The Feast of Lights is an enduringly meaningful affirmation of freedom of conscience, and a summons not just to recognize but to celebrate diversity.

Jewish Congregation of Marco Island invites local residents to join us in our shared celebration of Chanukah. Candle-lighting takes place at the start of Shabbat evening worship at 7:30 PM on Friday, December 7. In addition, the Congregation is host site for the annual South Collier County Community Chanukah party co-sponsored by Jewish Federation of Greater Naples, which will take place this year at 5:30 PM on Sunday, December 9.

The Synagogue is located at 991 Winterberry Drive, a block and a half west of Collier. For more information, call the Jewish Congregation office 239-642-0800.

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