WHAT IS CHANUKAH?

WHAT IS CHANUKAH?

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 14:10

Jewish holiday of light comes ahead of Christmas

chanukah.jpg

For more than two millennia the Jewish people have celebrated the holiday of Chanukah, a festival that lasts eight days. This is time for joy and family reunion during which we express our gratitude to God for the miracles the ancient Jews experienced during their revolt against the Hellenic invaders in the 2nd Century BCE. Lead by Antiochus Epiphanes, the Hellenes conquered Jerusalem and desecrated the Holy Temple. But then God gave our forefathers spiritual strength which allowed them to achieve victory against the invaders and reclaim the physical and spiritual freedom to sanctify the Holy Temple again. The high priests continued their service to God in the Temple, and the Jewish people regained their independence after a dark period of suffering.

There are a number of miracles that Chanukah celebrates.

First comes the victory of the few against the many. The few Jews, lead by the Maccabees of the House of the Hashmonaim, defeated the numerous Hellenic cohorts with their war elephants and fighting skills.

The second miracle that God performed for his people was the miracle involving a little olive oil that burnt for eight days instead of one.

In order to sanctify the Temple again, the priests had to light the menorah. Once lit, its flame had to be constantly maintained with special olive oil, but that had been stolen by the invaders. The available amount was sufficient for just a day, yet it lasted for eight.

Two miracles: the spiritual strength of the Maccabees that ensured victory and thus the future of the Jewish people as a free nation and the olive oil that allowed the prayers to continue in the Holy Temple.

This is why this festival is very important in the Jewish tradition. It celebrates deeds and symbols that have a great significance in our value system as a nation. We celebrate Hanukkah with a lot of joy, lighting the candles of the Hanukiah, a special candelabrum with eight candles, for eight days, plus one called "the attendant," which is usually put separate from the others.

This wonderful holiday brings a lot of joy and light to every jewish home around the world. We eat doughnuts fried in oil, we invite our non-Jewish friends to our communities to share the joy and the light of the Hanukiah candles with them, the children play the Dreidel game that tells the story of Chanukah, everybody is connected to the holiday, bounded by light, oil fried delights and the joy of victory.

A very joyful season is ahead of us, full of celebration and holidays for every faith. I hope that when all good people join their efforts, light will prevail darkness, good will defeat evil, and the future will bring us all satisfaction. After all, those are the messages that the holidays of this season bring us.

Together, we can work hand in hand in the present, so that we can achieve a future of stability, prosperity, tolerance and justice – the best present that we can give to our generations, for any season!

* Shaul Kamisa Raz is the ambassador of Israel

Issue 86

Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.

0 comments

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM AND ITS BULGARIAN CONNECTION
Where are the Bulgarian Oscars? For years this question – coupled with the notable lack of a Bulgarian Nobel Prize winner in anything – has troubled the Bulgarians, perhaps bespeaking a very deeply ingrained cultural inferiority complex.

angry-sofianites.jpg
ANGRY SOFIANITES
From job opportunities to entertainment options: living in Sofia, Bulgaria's largest city, has its perks. It also has its downsides.

IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
"Dimitrina?" I have not heard from her for more than a month, which is unusual. "Почина." "Po-chi-na?" I type the word phonetically in an online translation tool. "What?" "Почина. Me, Dimitrina sister. Bye."
197604616a676bee4526981ed9585350_XL.jpg
ARRIVAL CITY
As an airplane is swooping over a field beside Sofia Airport, two horses and a donkey do not look up, but keep grazing among the rubbish. Shacks made of bricks, corrugated iron and wood encroach upon the field.

nancy-schiller.jpg
AMERICA FOR BULGARIA FOUNDATION CELEBRATES BULGARIAN SUPERHEROES
Everyday Superheroes was the main theme of the event, celebrating the efforts and the energy of ordinary Bulgarians who work in spite of the difficulties and the hardships to make Bulgaria a better place.

traditional-bulgarian-dance.jpg
TRADITIONAL MUSIC AND DANCE
As you hold this book in your hands, a Bulgarian song travels in outer space. The song in question is "Izlel e Delyu Haidutin," a traditional Rhodope tune sung by Valya Balkanska.

rose picking bulgaria.jpg
WHEN A ROSE IS NOT EXACTLY A ROSE
Attar-bearing roses and beautiful girls in traditional attire picking them dominate the images that Bulgaria uses to sell itself to both Bulgarian and international tourists.

bishops-basilica-of-philippopolis.jpg
DECIPHERING BISHOP'S BASILICA OF PHILIPPOPOLIS
This May, for two days, historians, archaeologists, restorers and experts in other fields shared their findings and ideas about the Bishop's Basilica of Philippopolis at a scientific conference in Plovdiv.

evil-eye.jpg
VERY SUPERSTITIOUS
Once you start paying attention to Bulgarians, you will observe some inexplicable actions. Dozens of men and women wear red thread around their wrists. An old woman cuddles a baby, and then spits at it.

FOR A COUPLE OF LIONS' HIDES
Under GERB, Bulgaria's public has become accustomed to scandals of various magnitude that come and go about every second day, sometimes several times a day.
military cemetery sofia.jpg
REMEMBERING 11/11/18
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month: 99 years ago, the moment when the Great War ended was perhaps chosen to be easy to remember.

pirogov children unit.jpg
LITTLE HEROES OF PIROGOV
Being laid up in hospital is never a particularly pleasant experience. Especially for children. Especially for children in Bulgaria.