This post is part of a series, 8 Days of Chanukah. As I begin the celebrations in my home and in our synagogue, I've been reflecting on the story of the Maccabees and the re-dedication of the Temple, as well as meditating on "light" in the Scriptures. I'll be posting about Chanukah for the next seven days, and I hope you'll join me.
Tonight marks the first night of Chanukah, and so at sundown, we lit the first candle on the Chanukah menorah. We attended a special event this evening, a first for our county. Jews and Gentiles from the area gathered at a local shopping center for a public lighting of a giant menorah, and a big celebration of the holiday.
We enjoyed a Klesmer band, singing traditional Chanukah songs, dancing, and food, of course. There were hot dogs, latkes with applesauce, and some of the biggest jelly doughnuts I've ever seen in my life. It was a joy-filled gathering, and I hope it will be repeated for years to come.
The Jewish community was "letting its' light shine" tonight. The rabbi officiating the event mentioned how good it was to be able to have this event without fear. He mentioned tolerance and being grateful that we could do this in an open, very public, outside venue.
|Lighting the Chanukah menorah at the shopping center|
The story of Chanukah is about persecution and suppression of the Jews, but also about the power of G-d to overcome evil. I think you have to understand the past, as well as the present-day persecution of the Jews around the world to appreciate this.
Murders of Jews, as well as Christians, are currently happening in many countries. I-SIS has beheaded many Christians in Iraq, and not only adults, but children. I saw a report that I-SIS threatened four children with death if they would not say, "I will follow Mohammed". They all replied, "No, we love Yeshua [Jesus], we have always loved Yeshua." Their heads were immediately chopped off by I-SIS soldiers.
I pray for our leaders to understand the threat of these dangerous groups and that they will take action to protect our country.
The area where we live doesn't have a large Jewish population, such as Miami or Jacksonville, but we have a presence. Of the five Jewish congregations in the county,one is Chassidic (Orthodox), one is Traditional (Conservative), and one is Reformed (very liberal). Our synagogue, Ma'gen Da'vid, is one of the two Messianic synagogues in the area. Messianic means we believe Yeshua (Jesus) is the promised Messiah, yet we are a Conservative Torah-observant synagogue.
I would love to hear how you celebrate Chanukah, and if you, like me, combine this holiday with an observance of the birth of Yeshua our Messiah.
Chag Chanukah Sameach (Happy Hanukkah!)
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