Thursday, 13 December 2012

Chanukah: The Festival Of Lights; Sydney, Australia

Hanukkah, Sydney, Australia...

Hanukkah was celebrated in Sydney, Australia, today, with festivities following into the evening.

Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights and is celebrated December 8-16, 2012. On the Hebrew calendar, the dates are 25 Kislev to 2 Tevet in the year 5773.

Hanukkah is an 8 day celebration commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the second century B.C.E. during the Maccabean revolt against Greek rulers.

Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting a nine-branch menorah. Technically, the it is called a hanukkiah to distinguish itself from the seven-branch menorah used in the Temple.

The story of Hanukkah is one of miracles and of revolution. Antiochus, the Greek ruler, forbade Jewish religious practice, so a small group of Jews, the Maccabees, revolted. These Jews, in course, prevailed and restored the Holy Temple, which had been desecrated. The menorah in the Temple needed to be re-lit because, according to tradition, it should burn continuously. The Temple liberators found one vial of olive oil, enough for one day of light. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days.

Jews now light menorahs on each night of Hanukkah. Traditionally, one candle or flame is lit for each night until the eighth night, when all eight lights shine together. The menorah has a ninth "helper" flame -- known as the shamash -- used to light the other candles. This is necessary because in Jewish law the Hanukkah lights' only purpose is to visually proclaim the miracle of the holiday. Jews place the lit menorah in a prominent window in order to fulfil this commandment.

A common practice on Hanukkah, is gift giving on each night, and it is therefore a wondrous time for Jewish children. Fried potato pancakes (latkes) and doughnuts (sufganiyot) are traditional fare, and a spinning top (dreidel) with four Hebrew letters -- nun, gimel, hei, shin -- form an acronym for the message of Hanukkah: A great miracle happened there.

Thank you to everyone who helped make today possible.


Chabad Youth NSW

Eva Rinaldi Photography Flickr