Hanukkah history and stories to be discussed next week

A speaker series at Wittenberg will bring in Dr. Becker.

Everyone is welcome to learn about Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, with Dr. Annette Nathan Becker on Thursday at Wittenberg’s Shouvlin Center.

The Jewish religious festival begins this year on Saturday, Dec. 8, after sundown and extends for eight days. It is a time of remembrance of the re-dedication of the second Temple in Jerusalem. The festival involves lighting candles on a menorah (a nine candle candelabra) and sharing stories of faith.

Dr. Becker will share the history and story of Hanukkah. “Hanukkah is the celebration of a fight for religious freedom, of a military victory of the Jews over the Greeks around 100 BCE,” she said. “The Greeks defiled the Jewish Temple, which started the war.”

Hanukkah celebrates two miracles that occurred during and following the war. Dr. Becker says that the first miracle was that the Jewish people won, even though they were greatly outnumbered. The second miracle involved oil needed to light the menorah in the temple. The Jews only had enough oil for the light to burn one day, but it burned for eight days, which was exactly the time needed to prepare more oil.

Dr. Becker says that Jewish people consider Hanukkah a minor holiday. “We have other holidays that are much more significant, but because this is in December, it receives a lot of attention.”

In addition to discussing the history and traditions associated with the festival, Dr. Becker will be bringing donuts for the guests. “Fried foods are eaten during the week to commemorate the importance of oil. It’s the one time a year I get to eat a donut and not feel guilty!” she said.

This program is part of the Speaker Series sponsored by the Global Education and Peace Network.

Nancy Flinchbaugh, fair housing and mediation coordinator with the city of Springfield, said that the speaker series started after the attacks of 9/11 to build awareness of global cultures. “The network is made up of a diverse group of people,” said Flinchbaugh. “Each month we have a program to raise awareness of global and local ethnic cultures and to build bridges of intercultural understanding.”

For a complete schedule of programs, visit the Springfield’s website at www.ci.springfield.oh.us/depts/community/fairhousing.htm.

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