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December 4, 2012 > A week of miracles

A week of miracles

Faith is often described as belief in an idea or concept that transcends human experience. Although words may attempt to translate faith into an understandable context, emotion and conviction exist without physical limitations. Throughout history, extraordinary examples of events and persons that defy physical limitations have been elevated to the status of miracles.

One such event, celebrated by Jews throughout the world, occurred in 167 B.C.E. (i.e. BC) when, in response to the seizure and dedication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem to the Greek God Zeus, an uprising against the Greek-Syrian regime by rebel "Maccabees" regained control of the sacred building. Oil was necessary to burn in the temple menorah continuously to sanctify the grounds following its desecration, but only an amount to burn for a single day was found in the temple. The temple's menorah was lit in hopes it would suffice until more oil could be found. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days.

Hanukkah whose meaning is "dedication," is a reminder of that miracle and the triumph of religious freedom. On each of eight nights, an additional candle is lit in a special menorah, called a "hanukkiyah" until all eight are burning. The hanukkiyah holds nine candles; the extra candle, called a "shamash," is the first lit and used to light the remaining eight. Traditions of Hanukkah revolve around three basic practices: lighting the hanukkiyah, a dreidel (spinning top) game and oil fried foods such as potato pancakes (latkes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts).

This year, Hanukkah begins at nightfall December 8 or the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, 5773.

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