The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah begins on the night of Sunday, Dec. 18, with the lighting of the first of eight candles to celebrate what is often called The Festival of Lights.
The town of Concord and Congregation Kerem Shalom will hold an outdoor Menorah lighting on Dec. 21, the fourth night of Hanukkah, at Rideout Park in West Concord from 5 to 6 p.m. The event will include craft goody bags for kids from Concord Recreation and Concord Free Public Library, and latkes, or potato fritters, from Debra’s Natural Gourmet.
Hanukkah, which means dedication, commemorates events that took place about 168 B.C. The Syrians invaded Jerusalem and desecrated the Jewish temple. A resistance movement, led by the Maccabee family, defeated the Syrians, and rededicated the Temple. According to legend, there was only enough oil to keep the light in the Temple’s ark lit for one day. But the oil miraculously lasted eight days until more oil was on hand. This is why Hanukkah lasts for eight days and nights, with one candle lit each night.
In an email exchange with The Concord Bridge, Kerem Shalom Cantor Rosalie Gerut added that “the concept of light is a major one in Jewish tradition. Each of us has the light of our soul to share with others, thereby bringing more light into the world.”
Hanukkah is actually a minor Jewish holiday, since it is not mentioned in the Bible. But because of its proximity most years to Christmas, Hanukkah has emerged as a way to celebrate an inclusive holiday season. As Gerut put it, “Hanukkah is about joining all people together in unity.”