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Temple B’rith Shalom will celebrate Chanukah, Festival of Lights, on Dec. 24

Rabbi Rosenthal

Rabbi Rosenthal

Temple B’rith Shalom, Prescott, will mark the Jewish holiday of Chanukah—the Festival of Lights—at 6 p.m. on Dec. 24. The synagogue will observe Chanukah with festive songs and plenty of good food, including latkes, a traditional treat on the holiday. Children will have lots of opportunities to play and enjoy the Festival of Lights.

Chanukah is an eight-day observance that commemorates the successful revolt, ca. 200 BCE, of the Maccabees and their allies against the oppression of Antiochus IV, a Greco-tyrant of the Selucid Empire who massacred Jews and attempted to wipe out Jewish practices. The Holy Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated under Antiochus.

“The Festival of Lights enables us to bring a much needed ray of light to the darkness that envelopes so much of the world,” said Rabbi Jessica Rosenthal, spiritual leader of Temple B’rith Shalom. “The Maccabees overcame the darkness of their time and fought for their religious freedom.”

A tradition holds that, when the victorious Maccabees entered the Holy Temple, they couldn’t find any pure olive oil to kindle the menorah. Their search turned up a small jar that contained only enough oil to burn for one day. “Instead it burned for eight days, providing the light and the hope that they needed to rebuild and rededicate their holy space,” Rosenthal added. “The Jews considered it a great miracle.”

To commemorate the miracle, Jews light candles in their menorahs (sacred candelabrums) for each of the eight days that the jar of oil burned.

“Chanukah means to dedicate—and helps us to recall the moment-- when the Maccabees rededicated the Holy Temple,” Rosenthal added. “We’re inviting our Jewish families to bring their menorahs to our Temple and to light them, as a united community, as a symbol of our belief in the miracle.”

The holiday begins on the evening of Dec. 24. Candles are added to menorahs for each night of the eight-day holiday. The Temple’s celebration, on Dec. 24, will fill the synagogue with light from dozens of menorahs.

Chanukah is a special, joyous, time for Jewish children. “Many families give children a small gift for each night of Chanukah, “Rosenthal noted. “We also eat special foods, such as potato latkes (pancakes) and sufganiot—jelly doughnuts–because they’re made with oil, reminding us of the oil that burned for eight days.”

Temple B’rith Shalom’s Chanukah celebration starts at 6 p.m. on Dec. 24. Those interested in attending should contact the Temple at 928-708-0018 to reserve a place. Reservations will be first come - first served.

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