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Local Jews invite public to join Hanukkah celebrations

Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, is almost here and Jews everywhere are preparing themselves to celebrate one of the most important religious festivals of their faith.

On December 1 the local Jewish community will be hosting a lively celebration that will help usher in the eight-day Hanukkah festival. Visiting Chabad Rabbi to The Bahamas, Rabbi Sholom Bluming, says that Hanukkah is a festival that could be beneficial to all people alike, Jewish or non-Jewish, and he hopes that persons of other religious backgrounds will come to appreciate the freedom and sense of hope that this festival embodies.

“Each year Jewish people around the world celebrate the Hanukkah holiday,”says Bluming.”Hanukkah commemorates the liberation of ancient Israelite people from persecution and tyranny over 2,000 years ago. It is a festival commemorating freedom, liberty and the rights of the individual versus tyranny.

“On Hanukkah we kindle a candelabra called a menorah, which symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and goodwill to all people. It’s message is universal and inclusive, and is commemorated by people worldwide.”

Said the rabbi, “The history of Hanukkah recalls the victory more than 2,100 years ago of a militarily weak but spiritually strong Jewish people, who defeated a ruthless enemy that had overrun ancient Israel and sought to impose restrictions on the Jewish way of life, prohibit religious freedom and force the Jewish people to accept a foreign religion.

“During the occupation of Jerusalem and the Temple, the Syrian Greeks desecrated and defiled the oils prepared for the lighting of the Menorah, which was part of the daily service in the temple. Upon recapturing the Temple from the Syrian Greeks, the Jewish people found only one jar of undefiled oil, enough to burn only one day, but it lasted miraculously for eight days until new, pure olive oil was produced.

“In commemoration of this event, the Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting an eight-branched candelabra known as a Menorah. During the celebrations the Menorah is placed in highly-visible area to publicize the miracle, with its message of hope and religious freedom, to all.

“Today, people of all faiths consider the Hanukkah holiday as a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness.”The Rabbi said that the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah Lighting a single flame on the first night, two on the second, and so on until the eighth night of Hanukkah when all eight lights are kindled.

A taller, ninth candle on the menorah is the servant candle used to light the others. Prayers are recited to offer praise and thanksgiving, and customs include eating foods fried in oil, playing with the dreidel and giving gelt to children.

Hanukkah also propagates the universal message that ultimately good will prevail over evil, freedom over oppression and light over darkness. It is a time for celebrating the freedom to openly celebrate our values; this Menorah proclaims that message to the world.

All those celebrating the holiday are welcomed to join in the community’s celebration. Special foods made in oil will also be prepared. So be there to partake in a rich Jewish celebration that you and your family will enjoy.

What: Hanukkah celebration

When: Wednesday, December 1

Where: 14 Watercolor Cay, Sandyport

Time: 7 p.m.

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