Chanukah menorah exhibit at Greensboro Historical MuseumBy Special to the Peacemaker
Published: December 6, 2012
With joyous holiday songs, prayers, games and special food, the Greensboro Jewish Federation will celebrate the festive eight day holiday of Chanukah and officially celebrate and present “Lighting the Generations” exhibit of mostly heirloom Chanukah menorahs (candelabras) at a dessert reception, Sunday afternoon, December 9, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. a Greensboro Historical Museum, 130 Summit Avenue, Greensboro.
“We will joyously celebrate the brightness of religious freedom in the glowing lights of Chanukah on its second day in a happy community exhibit of 21 special Chanukiyot (menorahs) connected through history to Greensboro,” said Ivan Saul Cutler, chair, marketing committee, Greensboro Jewish
Open to the public, the reception acknowledges the festive Jewish holiday rooted in an ancient Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks for religious freedom and rededicating the Temple in Jerusalem in the Year 168 Before Common Era (B.C.E).
The holiday is celebrated around the world for eight days and nights.
At the dessert reception, traditional Chanukah songs and prayers will be sung, as the second candle will be lit. In keeping with tradition, a sampling of treats cooked in oil will be served, symbolizing the miracle of Chanukah when the one day’s oil for the rededicated holy Temple burned for eight
Many Greensboro individuals and families who loaned their menorahs will be present to share personal stories and marvel at the diverse array of Chanukiyot from classic to modern, with several more than a century old from the Benjamin, Isaacson, Kittner and Rauch families.
The menorahs will be exhibited at the Greensboro Historical Museum from now through January 3, 2013.
Rooted in an ancient victory for religious freedom, Chanukah is a festive Jewish holiday celebrated around the world for eight days and nights.
While joyous in celebration, Chanukah’s name and origin are serious. In Hebrew, the word Chanukah (also transliterated as Hanukah) means dedication.
The holiday commemorates the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem, following Jewish victory over oppressive Syrian-Greeks in the Year 168 before the Common Era (B.C.E.).
In 168 B.C.E. Syrian-Greek soldiers seized the Temple. They desecrated the Temple to the worship of the Greek god Zeus and spiritually defiled it in many abhorrent ways. By decree, Jewish worship was forbidden under penalty of death. While enraged, the Jews reluctantly declined to fight immediately, fearing reprisals. As repression and degradation of Jews increased, so did their resolve to fight with might. In a series of successful
military resistance for religious freedom to worship, Jewish rebels led by valiant Maccabees regained control and drove out the Syrian-Greeks.
Acknowledging victory, the Maccabees and Jewish troops wanted to purify and rededicate the Temple by burning ritual oil in sanctuary’s menorah. But to their dismay, only one day’s amount of oil was in the Temple. Regardless, they lit the menorah and to their surprise the small amount of oil lasted
eight days, which has come to be known as the miracle of Chanukah.
Today, the holiday’s brightness emanates from progressive candle lighting each night for the eight days. One candle is lit for each night on a special candelabrum known as Chanukiyah or Chanukah menorah.
The Chanukah menorah holds eight candles, with a special elevated ninth servant or shamash candle, used to light the others. Chanukah menorahs can be ornate, fancy and simple in designs that are classic, traditional, modern and abstract.
This exhibit features mostly heirloom Chanukah menorahs many decades old, as well as a few of more recent vintage.
Also known as the Festival of Lights, the joyous Chanukah celebration begins on the 25th day of month of Kislev on the Hebrew lunar calendar. On the secular calendar in 2012, Chanukah begins at sundown on December 8 and ends on December 16.
Even though Chanukah is post-biblical, the holiday is celebrated heartedly, with special foods cooked in oil (potato pancakes and doughnuts), games (spinning a four-sided top or dreidel) and, in more recent history, gift giving because of its calendar proximity to Christmas.
Lighting the Chanukiyah: Every year it is customary to commemorate the miracle of the Chanukah oil by lighting candles on the special menorah. The Chanukiyah is lit every night for eight nights while special blessings are sung in praise of the holiday and to acknowledge religious freedom.
One candle is lit on the first night of Chanukah, two on the second, and so on, until eight candles are lit.
Spinning the dreidel: A popular Chanukah game is spinning the dreidel, a four-sided top with Hebrew letters written on each side. Typically, winners receive gelt (foil-covered chocolate
Eating fried foods: Because Chanukah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is traditional to eat fried foods such as latkes
(potato pancakes) served with applesauce and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) during the holiday.
Chanukah begins at sundown on December 8 and runs until sundown on December 15.