Title: The Festival of Lights
Date: December 06, 2015
The annual eight-day celebration of Hanukkah started centuries ago with the victory of the few over the many, and the weak over the strong. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who ruled in Israel in the second century BC, brought Greek culture, insisting that Israeli Jews worship Greek gods. Death was the penalty for refusal. Mattathias, a high priest of Israel, led a revolt using a small army. His son, Judah Maccabee, continued fighting for seven years. When they retook the temple in Jerusalem in 165 BC, they rededicated and purified it. Hanukkah comes from the Hebrew word – dedication.
Inside the temple, they found enough lamp oil for one night. Miraculously, it lasted eight nights. This miracle is called The Festival of Lights and has been celebrated in the Jewish month of Kislev ever since.
Each night in Hanukkah, a candle is lit on a menorah, an eight-branched candelabrum. Two blessings are said each night – one over the candles, and the other in remembrance of the miracle of the oil. An extra blessing is said on the first night. There are gifts, games, meals, songs and parties.
In this pluralistic age where we live side-by-side with neighbors of differing beliefs, and in this holiday season renowned for peace and goodwill, it is right and good to know about the People of The Book,* as our Muslim neighbors would say.
Let’s Pray: Dear God, You are one God with many people. In this holiday time, show us the path of goodwill and peace with our neighbors of differing faiths. Amen.
Here’s a Thought: Blessed are You, Lord our God.
*People of the Book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_of_the_Book