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December 5, 2017 > Hanukkah honors Jewish history

Hanukkah honors Jewish history

By Toshali Goel

As the month of December begins, festivities around the world also commence. Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is one such holiday, a time honored Jewish festival of light and its triumph over darkness. This year, the eight-day holiday will begin on December 12. Several local temples and synagogues will be observing Hanukkah, including Chabad of Fremont Jewish Center, Congregation Shir Ami, Temple Beth Torah, and Temple Beth Sholom. One notable celebration is Chabad of Fremonts annual menorah lighting. For the 5th year, Chabad of Fremont will ignite a public nine-foot-tall Chanukah Menorah at Pacific Commons Shopping Center outside Dicks Sporting Goods, on Tuesday, December 19. This years ceremony will honor Senator Bob Wieckowski as well as other local heroes, and be followed by dancing to live music, enjoying snacks, and an array of other activities, such as face painting and raffles.

Hanukkahs history can be traced back to 160s B.C., when the Jewish people rose up against their oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. The Seleucid (Syrian-Greek) prince Antiochus Epiphanes met with resistance from a local Jewish priest named Mattathias. Mattathias led the Jewish people in their revolt, earning his family the name Maccabees, or the hammer. Judah replaced Mattathias after his death, and a final battle was fought, JudahÕs army making the impossible possible and defeating Antiochus. The Jews reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and rededicated it to the service of God. They wanted to light the Temples menorah, but only had enough oil for one day Ð and yet, miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days. These miracles are the reason that Hanukkah is celebrated every year for eight days, commemorating the triumph of resilience and bravery over oppression.

Typically, the holiday is observed mainly through the lighting of the menorah. Each day of Hanukkah, an additional candle is lit, until all the candles are lit on the last day. Traditional prayers, such as the Hallel prayer, are recited, and songs are sung. Menorahs are placed in doorways or windows, and are lit in public places of observation. Fried foods are typically consumed, such as latkes (potato pancakes) or jelly-filled doughnuts called sufganyas. Children play with the customary dreidel, a four-sided top which bears Hebrew letters.

Rabbi Moshe Fuss, Director and Rabbi at Chabad of Fremont, said, ÒThis year brings added significance as the world marks 50 years since the RebbeÑRabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory?initiated the Mitzvah Campaigns, a historic undertaking that brought Jewish observance and celebration to the streets, laying the groundwork for public menorahs and the worldwide Hanukkah campaign that he set into motion in 1973.Ó

Chabad of Fremont will also be partnering with The Home Depot for the second year in a row to offer a pre-Chanukah Menorah Workshop on December 10. Participants will receive a workerÕs hat and then craft their own unique menorah from wood and a host of other available supplies, which will then be followed by Chanukah Storytime, snacks, and prizes. More than 100 children attended the Menorah Workshop in 2016, and parents are also welcome to attend.

Rabbi Fuss said, ÒThe message of Chanukah is the message of light. The nature of light is that it is always victorious over darkness. A small amount of light dispels a lot of darkness. Another act of goodness and kindness, another act of light, can make all the difference. The past four lightings have been enjoyed by hundreds of people from all backgrounds. The message of Chanukah is universal and can be appreciated by all people. The menorah serves as a symbol of Fremont's dedication to preserve and encourage the right and liberty of all its citizens to worship God freely, openly, and with pride. Specifically in America, a nation that was founded upon and vigorously protects the right of every person to practice his or her religion free from restraint and persecution.Ó

Menorah Workshop
Sunday, Dec 10
10 a.m. Ð 12 noon
5401 Thornton Ave, Newark
(510) 300-4090

Lighting of the Giant Menorah
Tuesday, Dec 12 Ð Tue, Dec 19
6:00 p.m.
Temple Beth Sholom
642 Dolores Ave, San Leandro
(510) 357-8505

Chanukah Shabbat Service
Friday, Dec 15
7:30 p.m. Ð 9:00 p.m.
Temple Beth Torah
42000 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont
(510) 656-7141

Community Chanukah Pot Luck Dinner & Menorah Lighting
Saturday, Dec 16
6:00 p.m. Ð 8:30 p.m.
Congregation Shir Ami
4529 Malabar Ave, Castro Valley
(510) 537-1787

Chanukah Lighting
Tuesday, Dec 19
5:30 p.m. Ð 7:00 p.m.
DickÕs Sporting Goods
43923 Pacific Commons Blvd, Fremont
(510) 300-4090

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