Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy Hanukkah from Housing Chronicles

We at MetroIntelligence and The Housing Chronicles Blog would like to wish our Jewish friends, colleagues, neighbors and clients a very Happy Hanukkah. Ever wonder what this 8-day celebration really means for your Jewish friends, neighbors and colleagues?  The joyous festival of Hanukkah begins on 25 Kislev of the Jewish calendar. It celebrates two miracles –a great Jewish military victory and a miraculous supply of oil for the Temple…click here to read on



Hanukkah marks the Macabees’ long-ago defeat of the much-larger Greek-Syrian army that had invaded Israel. The Macabees were just a small group of Jews led by Mattathias and his five sons, including Judah Macabee. But they organized themselves into a guerrilla army and proved stronger than their powerful enemy.

Following the Macabees’ victory, the Jews rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and, once again, were able to worship freely.

Although Hanukkah celebrates a military victory, its major symbol — the Hanukkah menorah, or hanukkiah — reminds us of the miracle of the oil. As the Jews purified the Holy Temple, they found only one flask of the oil for the eternal lamp — enough to keep it burning for just one day. But a miracle occurred, and the oil lasted eight days and nights until more oil could be brought from afar. That miracle explains why we celebrate Hanukkah for eight days and also why Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights.

The Hanukkah menorah holds nine candles, one for each of the eight nights and an additional candle that’s used to light the others. One candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah, two on the second night, until all eight candles are lit on the eighth night.

Hanukkah is a time to celebrate with family and friends, to eat yummy holiday treats, to give gifts (especially to children) and to play the dreidel game.

Hanukkah is one of the happier Jewish festivals. We probably wouldn’t call it a holy day, because holy has the implication of being separate. God is holy; He is separate. The Sabbath is holy. And what usually defines the festivals and the holy days is the cessation of work. You are not to work on holy days like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, or the first and last days of Tabernacles (Sukkot). But on Hanukkah, you are allowed to work, so you go to your office or to school. So Hanukkah is a regular day — not quite holy in the same sense as these other holidays and also not biblical.

It does not appear in the Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament) because the events surrounding it occurred in the year 165 B.C.E., after the closing of the Hebrew Bible. (Since Jews do not measure time in terms of Jesus’ life and death, we use the term B.C.E., meaning “before the common era,” rather than B.C.) But in the New Testament, it is mentioned once, in John 10:22, which says that people were gathered around at the festival of dedication. That, of course, was 200 or so years later, in the 1st century after the common era (A.D.), after the time of Jesus.

Hanukkah, however, is seen as an important holiday and festival, especially in America, because it is seen as a kind of tradeoff for Jewish kids who do not celebrate Christmas. Can you imagine being Jewish in a country where all your friends are celebrating Christmas, families are coming together, and kids are getting toys and presents? They look forward to that season, and you’re a Jewish kid who doesn’t have a holiday. So I think — this is my own personal view — that the holiday of Hanukkah has become more important than ever in the last 100 years. And a good part of that has been to provide Jewish children with a holiday of their own around Christmas.

Source:  Int’l Fellowship of Christians and Jews

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