Lighting the candles on Chanukah
Chanukah is a holiday which commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Beit HaMikdash in Jerusalem, where Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt.
Chanukah is a festival of Lights and is celebrated by holding nightly Menorah lighting ceremonies, saying a special blessing and eating fried or oily foods.
The very brief story of Chanukah
In the 2nd century BCE, The syrian-Greeks ruled the Holy land and forced the Jews to accept Greek culture and beliefs and to forsake their Jewish religion.
A small contingent of Jews, armed with little more than their faith in the Almighty, led my Judah the Maccabee, defeated the mighty Greek army, drove them back and reclaimed the Temple in Jerusam, re-dedicating it back to the service of G-d.
When they wanted to light the Menorah in the Temple all they could find was a small amount of oil, which was only enough to last for one night. Once lit, a miracle occurred and the Menorah remained lit for eight days, which was enough time for them to prepare more oil.
To commemorate this miracle and to publicise it, the festival of Chanukah was instituted.
Chanukah Observance and customs
The main observance of Chanukah is the nightly Menorah lighting ritual. The Menorah holds eight flames – one for each night that the miracle lasted for, and a ninth one which stands out called the Shamash – which is the light used to kindle the others.
Starting with lighting one flame, not including the Shamash, on the first night, an extra flame is added for each night until on the eighth night there are eight flames lit.
A special blessing is recited over the lighting of the flames and it is customary eat fried or oily foods such as doughnuts and Latkes (fried potato fritters).
The Menorah is lit in each household, or by each member of the household an din synagogues and public places. The Menorah is placed in a publicly visible spot such as a window sill and it is often that one can find giant Menorahs on front lawns or in front of public buildings or in shopping centres.
The Dredel is a game that children play on Chanukah which is a spinning top with four sides. This is reminiscent of the game that Jewish children used to pretend to play in the time of the Greeks in case they were caught gathering in the woods to learn Torah in secret.
It is also customary to give children coins – Chanukah Gelt, to encourage them to give Tzedakah – charity.
The holiday is a festive one with many social events for the community, public Chanukah lighting ceremonies to sybolise that just as the brave Maccabees drove back evil with their swords, we drive back evil with the Chanukah lights.
Chanukah lighting with cbdchabad sydney
The primary mitzvah of Chanukah, that of lighting the Menorah, is observed in public, we take this message of shining outwards into our surroundings with the holy glow of Mitzvahs with enthusiasm at CBDChabad Sydney. In trying to spread our love of Judaism, community, pride in tradition, we have taken to some of the most public locations around Sydney CBD and the inner-East. We have held public Menorah lighting events at the Sydney Opera House, Oxford Juniper Hall, Martin Place, Barangaroo, Paddington Reservoir Gardens, Wynyard Park, Rushcutters Bay, and so many more!
All Channukah Menorah lighting events are packed with games, raffles, music, Doughnuts, dancing, celebration, and fun!
CBDChabad hand out hundreds of Channukah kits each year, thanks to the generous support of our donors, and run Lunch ‘n’ Learn shiurim and Farbrengens with a focus on learning the customs and traditions of Channukah as well as the deeper lessons.
Regardless your age, affiliation or religiousity, we always have something to offer on Chanukah which you can be proud of and have fun with – while performing a Mitzvah!
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If you wish learn more about CBDChabad and our many services, or you wish to join us for any of our events, learning sessions, festive meals or feel like you just want to reach out, please fill out this form and we will be in touch with you.