Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hanukkah!

Tonight marks the first night of Hanukkah, one of the most joyous Jewish holidays. Most people know that Hanukkah lasts eight nights, and that children receive gifts as part of the holiday.

What many may not know is that Hanukkah is about strength of character, a willingness to maintain hope when hope seems nonexistent, and celebrating as a family and as a community.

The story of Hanukkah began with the Seleucid Empire sacking the Judean Temple. A group of brothers, known as the Maccabees, helped reclaim the Temple.

One little known Jewish tradition that plays an important role in the Hanukkah celebration is the “eternal light”. If you enter a synagogue you will see a tiny light over the cabinet – known as an “ark” - that holds the sacred Torah. That is the eternal flame, which is never extinguished.

In the days of the Maccabees the eternal flame came olive oil. According to the history of the holiday, there was only enough olive oil to last one night, and it was an 8-day journey to bring back more olive oil. Somehow, the eternal flame remained lit for those 8 days.

While Hanukkah may be rooted in the Jewish religion, the notions of character, hope, and the joys of family and friends are universal, as President Barack Obama declared earlier today:
Hanukkah is not only a time to celebrate the faith and customs of the Jewish people, but for people of all faiths to celebrate the common aspirations we share. As families, friends and neighbors gather together to kindle the lights, may Hanukkah's lessons inspire us all to give thanks for the blessings we enjoy, to find light in times of darkness, and to work together for a brighter, more hopeful tomorrow.
To our Jewish readers, and anyone else who is celebrating the holiday, we wish you a very blessed and happy Hanukkah.


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