McAllen, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Dating back nearly 2100 years ago, the holiday event known as Hanukkah has become synonymous with the holiday season.
To get an explanation of what Hanukkah is, ValleyCentral spoke with Rabbi Asher Hecht of Chabad RGV about the holiday. Practicing in the RGV for 11 years, Rabbi Hecht said Hanukkah is not that different from other events.
“It’s like many other holidays where family and friends come together to celebrate,” said Rabbi Hecht.
Starting November 28 and ending December 6, the eight-day event is celebrated to remember the miracles experienced by the Jewish people and the rededication of their Holy Temple.
Also called the “Festival of Lights”, the event is open to everybody and one of the few events in Judaism that are meant to be shared.
Custom to the holiday is the Dreidel, a four-sided spinning top, foods made in oil like latke (pancake), and most importantly the menorah. Each of the things is due to the significance for the Israelites during the second century BCE.
According to Rabbi Hecht, the people of Israel in the second century BCE were oppressed and persecuted by the Syrian Greeks in order to submit to Greek culture. This resulted in a small band of Jews led by Judah the Maccabee to revolt and defeat the empire, freeing the oppressed land. This is one of the two miracles that is celebrated during Hanukkah, the second being the lighting of the menorah. Returning back to the Temple in Jerusalem, they had discovered the area ransacked and their items destroyed including the containers of pure olive oil that had been desecrated.
Only able to use pure olive oil and limited to one, the oil that was only meant to last one day was able to last eight days. This allowed for more oil to be created since the process took one week to create.
“So we get together and we light the menorah again in commemoration, we eat foods made from oil…. and in this way, we are connecting to the miracle that happened with oil,” said Rabbi Hecht.
According to Rabbi Hecht, the lighting of the menorah is one that is meant to be shared and is one of the commandments they must follow. As a way to connect and show others the spirit of the holiday, Rabbi Hecht partnered with some of the cities to have menorahs up such as McAllen and Edinburg.
“This is the message of the holiday take your light, shine your light of love, shine your light of warmth, shine your light of kindness, shine your passions for a better world,” said Rabbi Hecht.
For more information or how to participate in the Hanukkah event visit Chabad RGV.