For the first time, Guthrie will hold a public Hanukkah Menorah Lighting at 7 p.m. on Sunday evening, December 9, at City Hall. Public menorah lightings worldwide have become increasingly well-attended as citizens unite in solidarity despite their differences.
“The Jewish Center of Indian Country invites the community to come learn more about Hanukkah, and show we stand together in service to our same one G-d, in gratitude for our deliverance and for the gift of our lives, and in commitment to increasing the light in the world at this time of increasing darkness,” said local Rabbi, R. Karpov.
Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is not a “Jewish Christmas” – as some believe, although modern celebrations often similarly incorporate the giving of gifts. Hanukkah celebrates the victory of religious freedom against tyranny and desecration. The Biblical passage of John 10:22-23 documents Jesus attending the festival at the Temple in Jerusalem.
Hanukkah is an eight-day holiday, with each day beginning the evening before at nightfall. For each successive night of Hanukkah, an additional light is kindled, increasing from the first through the eighth, using an addition ninth “servitor” light that kindles the rest.
The Hanukkah Menorah is traditionally set in a doorway or window facing the street, symbolizing that “even a little light can dispel a lot of darkness;” increasing the light in the world’s outside darkness. One Chabad Hassidic rabbi says it can remind us to be a “luminary” – the kind of person whose kind-heartedness and caring lights up their environment – increasing the light in the world every day by giving someone an encouraging smile or a sweet word.
The history behind this festival of light is a darker tale of an invasion of Seleucid Greek armies that tried to destroy the Jews and eradicate their faith through murder, degradation and by desecrating the Holy Temple. Jewish freedom fighters, Maccabee priests, drove out the enemy and regained the Temple, and cleansed the temple through rituals involving the lighting of oil lamps. Only one small cruise of oil for lighting the sacred fires was found unviolated, but were needed for the full number of nights and days. Miraculously, that small cruise of pure oil was able to continue the fire for the full eight days of purification. The lighting of the menorah is done to recount history and remember the miracle.
Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man says the menorah flames also reflect the ability to revive, heal and move into a path of renewed life beyond what most could have imagined, despite thoroughly overwhelming feelings of depletion.
On Saturday, December 8, Brunch on Noble will also feature traditional Hanukkah treats like potato-latkes and sufganiyoth (jelly-donuts) fried in oil—a traditional in commemoration of the little cruise of oil.