By Michele Lutes
Signal Staff Writer
Candles will begin to be lit on Thursday evening around the world to celebrate the eight nights of Hanukkah from Dec. 10-17, continuing a tradition of faith dating back over the course of two millennia.
“Hanukkah celebrates the events that happened over 2,000 years ago,” said Rabbi Mark Blazer of Temple Beth Ami in Santa Clarita. “The Jewish community fought back for religious freedom and Jewish tradition.”
“In the second century BCE, the Holy Land was ruled by the Syrian-Greeks, who tried to force the people of Israel to accept Greek culture and beliefs instead of mitzvah observance and belief in God,” according to chabad.org. “Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on Earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of God.”
The story has inspired many, Blazer said. “The biggest miracle of Hanukkah is the small group was able to withstand a bigger force and keep tradition.”
Tradition has been kept as the Jewish religion celebrates Hanukkah in December each year.
“It’s not a ‘Jewish Christmas,’” Blazer said. “It has a different meaning.”
After reclaiming the Holy Temple, the Jews sought to light the Temple’s Menorah, according to chabad.org. “They found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks. Miraculously, they lit the menorah and the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.”
Each candle represents a different day of the holiday. When celebrating the holiday, a candle on the Menorah is lit each evening of Hanukkah.
“The miracle of the lights,” Blazer said.
Hanukkah is a relatively new tradition on the Jewish calendar in Jewish history, he said. “It’s about halfway through our history. A lot of stuff that happened before that.”