Happy First Day of Hanukkah
My Ultimate Concierge, our pooch, America, and I send you and your family our friendship, our warmth, and a big wish for a delightful and happy Hanukkah. May the lights on your Menorah light up your home and your life.
I am drawn to everything and everyone that is authentic because the meaning of the word is so significant; genuine. It is not easy to be authentic and that is what draws me to a certain type of person or occasion. The celebration of Hanukkah or Festival of Lights is an authentic occasion because the Maccabees refused to surrender their beliefs.
The History of Hanukkah
In the year, 165 BC, Judas Maccabaeus, and his followers reclaimed Jerusalem from a Greek emperor who considered Israel a part of the Greek Empire. The emperor’s goal was to assimilate and control all of the religions in Jerusalem and he did this by prohibiting the practice of any other religion. He ordered all peoples to worship Greek gods. By decree, the Temple of Jerusalem was turned into a Greek shrine and the Jewish people were forbidden to study the Torah (the law of God as revealed to Moses and recorded in the five books of the Hebrew scriptures), to practice Jewish customs or celebrate Jewish holidays.
Why Hanukkah is Called the Festival of Lights
After a three-year war, the little Maccabee army (the Jews) defeated the Greeks and the temple was restored to Jewish worship. As part of a redeeming ceremony, Hanukkah, meaning dedication in Hebrew, the Maccabees began an 8-day purification ceremony.
Unfortunately, they discovered they had oil to burn for one night in the eight branched Menorah, a candelabra known as the Temple lamp, that had candle holders to burn for eight nights. A miracle occurred: the Menorah candles burned for 8 days. That is the reason Hanukkah is called, the Festival of Lights. Hanukkah is a happy celebration; The return of the Temple and the Jewish religion to its people. Judaism was here to stay.
The Symbolism of the Menorah
Of course, the Menorah is the most important symbol of Hanukkah. It alludes to the branches of human knowledge and symbolizes the creation in seven days. The 8th candle is called the Shamash. It represents the Sabbath and the helper candle used to light the other candles. And, all eight candles together represent the miracle of the blazing candles for eight days.
Here is one of my Menorahs:
Why I Believe Hanukkah is an Authentic Holiday
Since that time in 165 BC, the Jewish people have observed the celebration of Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights. It is my feeling that Hanukkah is a celebration of authenticity because the Maccabees (the Jewish people) refused to surrender what made them authentic… their faith even if it cost them their lives. They felt not to live as observant Jews was not to live at all.
Christmas and Hanukkah
I read a book by Harold Kushner, To Life: A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking, where he explained if it weren’t for Hanukkah there would be no Christmas because Jesus was a Jew! If the Maccabees had not defeated the Greeks, the Jewish people would have faded into Greek culture.
If we all trace our family tree back to that time, we all belonged to the House of David. Jesus lived his life as an observant Jew. He celebrated Hanukkah as a child and the last supper was a Passover seder. The apostles and most of the peoples who became his followers were Jews. The crowds who heard him speak called Jesus, Rabbi (teacher) so darling, our similarities, and our heritage are greater than our differences! I love that.
A Lovely Way…
“What a lovely way to think,” I say out loud to my Mac 21 as I look out our window at the city lights in Elsewhere. It is 6:18 a.m. and still dark. Due to repercussions from the pandemic and politics, 2020 has been a disastrous time in my life and yours. The pandemic has been a negative force to be reckoned with and the people making decisions for us are as diseased as the pandemic. They threaten my existence and my large family as much as the pandemic itself. I say out loud to my Mac 21, “What can I do to bring ‘light’ into the lives of our family who are so far away and light into my heart?”
Sending Something Special
I have decided to send each family a Menorah and candles and a personal and individual handwritten blessing, my potato latkes recipe, and a Hamsa, an ancient Middle Eastern religious symbol for all faiths. It is a protective talisman that brings good fortune, health and happiness, fertility, and abundance. I may send the girls one to wear around their neck and another to hang in their home. Another thought was to send a special vase I love from the designer, Johnathan Adler; the Mr. and Mrs. Muse Vase. It is stark white with two embossed lips one on each side. I will send this with a special note. Then I am searching for a tech ‘something’ too. Lastly, I may try to have a Zoom meetup to light our Hanukkah candles together on the first night of Hanukkah.
Happy Hanukkah to You All!
Darling, what can I say to help make this Hanukkah a celebration when our life situation in Elsewhere and the lockdown prevents many of us from sharing a joyous holiday with those we dearly love? Well, take heart, because fortunately traditions and festivities never change. We will still light our Menorahs and fry potato latkes, and be grateful. We have survived 4,000 years, we will survive life in Elsewhere!
Once again, to my Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah from my home to yours. Let’s plan on making 2021 light up our families and our lives.
How are you celebrating Hanukkah in your home this year? I would love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom of this page.
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