A message from Norbert Wied
CEO Carl Schurz Foundation
Frankfurt am Main, Germany, November 30, 2010
From December 1-9, 2010, Hanukkah (Chanukah), also known as the Festival of Lights, will be celebrated by Jews around the world. It is an eight-day holiday that starts on the 25th of the month of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar, and continues till the 2nd of the month of Tevet.
Hanukkah commemorates the miracle that happened after the Jew’s 164 B.C.E. victory over the Hellenist Syrians. Antiochus IV, the Greek King of Syria, had forbidden the observance of Judaism under penalty of death and had forced Jews to worship Greek gods.
After the victory, a Temple lamp has been lighted and although the lamp had oil for only one day, it stayed miraculously lit for eight days until a new supply of oil could be prepared. Hanukkah is observed by lighting one Hanukkah light of the Menorah (candelabrum) on each of the eight holiday nights, progressing to eight lights on the final night of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah festivities include games (especially Dreidel), gift-giving to children and gathering for enjoying traditional foods. Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday and its religious significance is far less than that of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, and Shavu’ot. It is roughly equivalent to Purim in significance. On the other hand, Hanukkah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays because of its proximity to Christmas. Some orthodox groups criticize the adoption of many Christmas customs, such as gift-giving and decoration, making Hanukkah the most secular holiday of the Jewish calendar.
Hanukkah began to find new expression in the years leading up to the founding of the modern state of Israel and has developed into a holiday rich with historical significance, physical and supernatural miracle narratives, and a dialogue with Jewish history.
I wish all Jews around the world: CHAG CHANUKKAH SAMEACH!
♪♫ “Chanukah, Oh Chanukah!” – A traditional Hanukkah song, sung by Theodore Bikel, first in Yiddish, then in English, then in Hebrew: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxH0xF84h_0
♪♫ “Ma’oz Tzur” – a Jewish liturgical poem or piyyut. It is written in Hebrew, and is often sung on the holiday of Hanukkah, after lighting the festival lights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7U1CHqe9eg
♪♫ “Mi Yimalel” (Who can retell) – A traditional Hanukkah song here performed by Craig Taubman, The Tribe & Alberto Mizzahi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPUUjmn_Wk0
♪♫ “Lich’vod Hachanukkah” – by Chaim Nachman Bialik, a traditional Chanukah song sung by THE WESTERN WIND and Fran Avni: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FbooXzSiQk