Hanukkah celebration at Bat Yam to fill temple with light
Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights and Temple Bat Yam, the Jewish congregation and community center serving Lake Tahoe’s South Shore, Carson City and the Carson Valley, on Dec. 6 will observe the holiday with its annual family celebration. The event is open to members and non-members alike.
Scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., the celebration will include songs, stories and a brief family Sabbath service led by Student Rabbi Sari Laufer. The event will conclude with a Latke Oneg (dessert) featuring potato latkes (pancakes) and jelly donuts, the two traditional food staples of the holiday. Potato pancakes and jelly donuts are the best known foods associated with Hanukkah because they are made with oil — and it is oil (for lighting) on which the holiday is based.
Although the Hanukkah celebration will begin at the temple at 6:30 p.m., many members and guests are planning to first participate in the annual community Menorah and Christmas tree lighting at the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce beginning at 5:30 p.m. Rabbi Laufer will lead those attending in Hanukkah songs and a prayer to begin the annual chamber event.
Attendees to the annual celebration at the temple were asked to bring their own family Menorahs (the candelabra that holds the eight nightly candles and the ninth that lights them) and nine Hanukkah candles for a giant group Menorah lighting. The goal is to fill the temple with light. All nine candles will be lit on Dec. 6, the last of the eight nights of the holiday, which comes very early this year.
Attendees also as asked to bring a platter of latkes (made with either regular or sweet potatoes) or a dozen jelly donuts for the potluck event, which will not be a complete dinner this year. The temple will provide drinks and toppings, such as sour cream and apple sauce, for the pancakes. Families may wish to provide dinner or a snack beforehand for children who may not be able to wait for the dessert snacks.)
The temple also will conduct two Tzedakah (charitable) projects on Friday night. Those attending the Hannukah celebration are asked to bring canned goods that will be distributed to the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center.
The temple also will participate in the “Stuff the Bus” project, in which unwrapped gifts, money, wrapping paper, ribbon and bows will be collected at the community Menorah and Christmas tree lighting at the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce. The goal is to fill the Area Transit Management bus with these items for donation to Christmas Cheer and Tahoe Youth and Family Services. Those not planning to attend the chamber event can bring their gifts to the temple instead.
The group candlelighting at the temple and the eating of food prepared with oil are particularly appropriate since they symbolize the miracle that brought about the holiday. During an ancient war with the Assyrians, a vastly outnumbered group of Maccabees, freedom fighters headed by Judah Maccabee, recaptured the Temple in Jerusalem after it was defiled by the enemy.
Inside, when they took refuge, was only enough oil to provide for one day of lighting. Miraculously, as the Assyrians surrounded the Temple waiting for a chance to attack, the oil lasted for eight days, giving the Maccabees enough time to outlast their opponents. The holiday of Hanukkah commemorates that miracle and the rededication of the Temple. It is celebrated for eight days, with one candle on the Menorah being lighted nightly as gifts are exchanged and families celebrate with special Hanukkah foods and games.
From a religious point of view, Hanukkah is one of the minor holidays in the Jewish calendar. However, in modern Jewish life it has taken on a strong meaning in the analogy of the Maccabees of old, like today’s Jewish people, trying to maintain a Jewish identity in an increasingly secular world. The holiday emphasizes family, focusing on the strong bond between parents and children as a way of celebrating life’s blessings.
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