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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Light the Festive Candles

(Silver Hanukkah lamp or menorah from the Czech
Republic, 1817)

The first of the eight days of Hanukkah or The Festival of Lights began yesterday, at sundown.

Hanukkah celebrates the victory, in 165 BCE, of the Jews in Judea over their Syrian rules, who had banned all parts of Jewish culture. With their victory under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus, the Jews restored the right to worship in their faith.

The lighting of the candles commemorates the miraculous expansion of one day’s oil to an eight-day supply of light, enough to allow the Jews the time needed to rededicate their Temple.


Light the first of eight tonight —
the farthest candle to the right.

Light the first and second, too,
when tomorrow’s day is through.

Then light three, and then light four —
every dusk one candle more

Till all eight burn bright and high,
honoring a day gone by

When the Temple was restored,
rescued from the Syrian lord,

And an eight-day feast proclaimed —
The Festival of Lights — well named

To celebrate the joyous day
when we regained the right to pray
to our one God in our own way.

~ Aileen Fisher (1906-2002), American poet

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