The Block Island Times
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Rhymes to Reason: Happy Hanukkah

The Feast of Lights runs December 8 to 16
By Sheridan Fisher Carley | Dec 12, 2012

Bacon once said: “The first creation of God in the works of the days was the light of the sense, the last was the light of reason; and his Sabbath work ever since is the illumination of the spirit.”

In teaching it is important to educate your children about many of the religions of the world. The Feast of Lights, known as Hanukkah or Chanukah, is a happy eight-day celebration. It comes in the winter and it is a time of presents and parties. Usually in a Jewish family gifts are given for eight nights.

The holiday originated long ago, when a foreign king along with his army tried to take over Palestine and its temple. For three years the Jews fought their enemies and won. Lights were always kept burning inside the temple, but finally there was only enough oil for one more day. A miracle happened. The lights burned for eight days and eight nights, giving the Jews enough time to prepare. Since then, the Jews all over the world celebrate by lighting one candle each night of the eight nights until, on the last day, the ninth is lit.

The menorah is a special nine branched candelabra and is used for this special, happy holiday. It is said that “Eight little candles, each little flame, whispers a legend of honor and fame.”

When celebrating the holidays one year, one of my little girls came to school upset, which broke my heart, especially around the holidays. This particular day was December 6, which is the feast of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, and a day of treats and parties for all children.

Sarah was telling me she was going to her cousin’s to celebrate “Konica.” I smiled and said “It should be so much fun, Sarah.” Sarah said, “No, I’m sad because Santa doesn’t come to my cousin’s house. She has been crying because he only comes to my house.” So I said, “Sarah, your cousin will get at least one present a night for her celebration of the Feast of Lights. It will be so much fun for her and maybe this year Santa would leave a special gift at your house for her. Let’s talk to mom when she comes to pick you up.”

When Mrs. Singleton came to school, Sarah and I explained why she was so upset. Mrs. Singleton agreed she’d call Santa and tell him about Sarah’s cousin. Sarah was so happy and I know that particular problem was taken care of. Sarah went to her cousin’s “Party of Lights” and also received a gift for their holiday. In this day and age with inter-religious marriage in families, all things are possible.

To all my Jewish friends, Happy Chanukah and Happy New Year!

Comments (1)
Posted by: Joel Maxman | Dec 15, 2012 11:11

Thank you for the article about the history of Hanukkah.  I am curious why you wrote that the events leading up to Hanukkah took place when "a foreign king ... tried to take over Palestine and its temple."

Leaving 21st-Century politics aside, there was no country called Palestine in the 2nd Century B.C.E. when the rededication of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem took place.  There was never a Palestinian temple.

The area in which these events occurred was, through the 3rd Century B.C.E., part of the kingdom of Egypt.  In the early 2nd Century B.C.E., it was conquered by the emperor of Syria.  The liberation of the area was accomplished by the Hasmoneans in the mid-2nd Century B.C.E.  The common name of this vicinity was Judea.

One might refer to this region in that time as part of Egypt, part of Syria, Judea, or simply the City of Jerusalem; one would be hard-pressed to call it Palestine.

Joel Maxman

BI & NYC


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