Saturday, December 4, 2010

Come Light the Menorah!

Tonight is the official public Menorah lighting, taking place outside of Congregation Adas Emuno, set to begin at 5:30 PM, starting with a Havadalah ceremony, and followed afterwards by a Chanukah party!  And when we light the Menorah tonight, it'll be the fourth night, and fourth light being turned on. 

As you know, Chanukah lasts for eight days, and we commemorate the holiday by lighting candles, one on the first day, two on the second, and so on until all eight candles on the Chanukah Menorah are lit. The Chanukah Menorah, or Chanukiah, actually uses nine candles typically, one being the shamash or helper, which is used to light the other eight (interestingly, Shamash is the name of the Sumerian sun god). Oh, and just in case it's not obvious, a Menorah is a candelabrum, but when I hear the word candelabrum I can't help but think of Liberace (if this confuses you, never mind, you're probably just too young to get the reference). 

 So why is this week different from all other weeks? On all other weeks, the Menorahs that are used only have six lights, plus the seventh shamash. The six lights of the standard Menorah correspond to the six points of the Star of David, the symbol of Judaism, but the Menorah itself is said to symbolize the burning bush, and it is said that the design of the Menorah was part of God's revelation to Moses. It was a feature of the Temple in Jerusalem, and remains one of the symbols of our faith, and the Jewish people as a nation. Here's one image of a Menorah, patterned after the one that existed in the ancient Temple:

And here is the Coat of Arms of the State of Israel, where the Menorah is used as a national symbol:

And now, here is a traditional image of a Chanukah Menorah:

And here's the national Menorah of the United States, on the Mall in Washington, DC, courtesy of National Geographic:

And now, these images below look pretty sad after the professional National Geographic photographer's work, but I took them with my camera phone back in 2008 at our community Menorah lighting:

With snow on the ground even, but I can't see Irving Berlin singing, I'm dreaming of a White Chanukah, oy!  Pass the latkes, please!

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