“…One candle representing Kindness and Good Deeds.”
I have friends from many countries and belief systems. Since I was a child, we celebrated Hanukkah as well as Christmas. This tradition continued with Shooshie. My father even made a menorah for her to light the candles on the proper days. We had a small menorah in front of our creche- this confused people for some reason. No matter what you believe in, what building you worship in, or what book you read, or even of you believe in the possiblity of nothing, this time of Yule, Hanukkah, and Christmas is a time to reflect more closely on the ideas of hope, kindness, peace, and good will.
So today’s PGW post is not about a specific incident or person, but about the idea of the holiday, whichever one you may celebrate.
By IAN DEITCH 12/08/12 10:12 PM ET EST
JERUSALEM — Jews around the world ushered in the eight-day Hanukkah
festival Saturday evening, lighting the first candles of ceremonial lamps that
symbolize triumph over oppression.
In Israel, families gathered after sundown for the lighting, eating traditional
snacks of potato pancakes and doughnuts and exchanging gifts. Local
officials lit candles set up in public places, while families displayed the
nine-candle lamps, called menorahs, in their windows or in special windproof
glass boxes outside.
Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, commemorates the Jewish
uprising in the second century B.C. against the Greek-Syrian kingdom, which
had tried to impose its culture on Jews and adorn the Jewish Temple in
Jerusalem with statues of Greek gods.
The holiday lasts eight days because according to tradition, when the Jews
rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem, a single vial of oil, enough for one day,
burned miraculously for eight.
For many Jewish people, the holiday symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
Observant Jews light a candle each night to mark the holiday.
Oily foods are eaten to commemorate the oil miracle, hence the ubiquitous
fried doughnuts and potato pancakes, known as latkes.
In Israel, children play with four-sided spinning tops, or dreidels, decorated
with the letters that form the acronym “A great miracle happened here.” Outside
of Israel, the saying is “A great miracle happened there.” Israeli students get
time off from school for the holiday, when families gather each night to light the
candles, eat and exchange gifts.
Hanukkah – which means dedication – is one of the most popular holidays in
Israel, and has a high rate of observance.
In Ohio, the first public candle lighting on Saturday was done by Holocaust
survivor Abe Weinrib, who turns 100 on Tuesday. Weinrib, who lit the first candle
on a 13-foot public menorah at Easton Town Center in Columbus, says his biggest
triumph was surviving the Holocaust, the Nazi campaign to eliminate Jews in Europe.
Weinrib told The Columbus Dispatch newspaper that he was arrested while working
in Polish factories owned by his uncle when he was in his 20s. He spent six years imprisoned
“Rather than blowing out 100 candles, he’d rather light one candle representing
kindness and good deeds,” said Rabbi Areyah Kaltmann of the Lori Schottenstein
Chabad Center in New Albany, which sponsored the menorah lighting. “He wants
this to be the way he ushers in his next century.”
In New York City, Jews celebrated the holiday’s start with the ceremonial lighting
of a 32-foot-tall menorah at the edge of Central Park. Rabbi Shmuel Butman lit
the giant structure that weighs about 4,000 pounds and has real oil lamps,
protected from the wind by glass chimneys.
“It was a beautiful event,” he said. “A wonderful way to start the holiday.”
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott celebrated the beginning of Hanukkah with a
menorah-lighting ceremony in his office at the state Capitol in Tallahassee.
He was joined by a rabbi from the northwest Florida branch of the Chabad
Lubavitch outreach organization.
“The story of Hanukkah reminds us that confidence in one’s identity and hope
for the future are powerful forces that cannot be defeated – even in the darkest
of times. Hanukkah is also a time to reiterate our support for the people of Israel,”
Scott said, adding that he and his wife are “keeping our friends in Israel in our
prayers for a future of peace.”
Associated Press Writers Colleen Long in New York City, Rebecca Miller in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Jennifer Kay in Miami, Florida, contributed
to this report.
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