To our Harrison Family,
This past Sunday at sundown, our friends and neighbors of the Jewish faith began their annual celebration of Hanukkah. Please join me in wishing them a Happy Hanukkah.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is the celebration and retelling of a wondrous miracle. The story begins around 200 BC in the land of Judea. After living peacefully and with freedoms to practice their religion for generations, the Jewish religion was outlawed by the ruling kingdom. To squash their defiance, soldiers descended upon Jerusalem, massacring thousands of people and desecrating the city’s holy Second Temple. In 168 B.C., documented as the Maccabean Revolt, the Jewish people rose up against this persecution and successfully expelled the monarchy from Judea.
In celebration, the reconstruction and rededication of the Second Temple took place. As the Torah (includes the written laws of Judaism) dictates, a Ner Tamid (eternal flame) shall burn constantly in front of the Ark (a chamber that houses the Torah) in every Jewish synagogue. In ancient times, the Ner Tamid was fueled by untainted olive oil. The Ner Tamid was relit as part of the rededication of the Second Temple, but there was only one small flask of untainted olive oil available – enough to keep the eternal flame burning for just one day. Miraculously, the flame continued flickering for eight nights, allowing time to find a fresh supply of untainted olive oil.
Since then, the story of this miracle has been retold and celebrated during Hanukkah. The festivities include the lighting of the Hanukkah Menorah, a candelabra with nine branches. Each branch represents each day the Ner Tamid miraculously remained lit. An additional candle is used to light the others. The Menorah is lit for eight consecutive nights and the sharing of traditional Hanukkah foods, singing, and exchanging of gifts with loved ones follows.
I enjoy hearing and retelling of these stories. In this time of social media and texting, I cherish the tradition of gathering around to hear them retold. No matter the religious affiliation, there is a common thread of family and community in these traditions. These attributes are important to us, regardless of our individual faiths. I personally find that sharing the stories and traditions of other faiths and cultures brings us closer and gives us a greater appreciation for each other.
Together for Harrison Township,