December 15, 2006


Casting a light on Hanukkah: Hanukkah begins tonight at sundown, and a rabbi would like to see more Jews take the eight-day holiday seriously. (ROBERTO SANTIAGO, 12/15/06,

When you get right down to it, it's all about the menorah.

The nightly lighting of the candles, accompanied by traditional prayers, are the heart of the eight-day Jewish festival of Hanukkah, which begins tonight at sundown.

''That is what celebrating Hanukkah is all about,'' said Rabbi Joseph Korf of the Hollywood Community Synagogue Chabad Lubavitch. The menorah is a nine-branched candelabrum, one of the oldest symbols of Judaism.

The tallest candle is used to light one candle the first night, two the second night until all are lit on the final night.

The ritual is intended to recall the Jewish recapture of the Temple of Jerusalem around 165 B.C., when, the story goes, a single night's supply of oil miraculously burned for eight nights.

But Korf worries that not enough Jews are observing Hanukkah, which is why he has given out close to 300 menorahs (complete with candles) over the last few days.

It has been something that he has been doing over the last few years.

''Due to assimilation and ignorance, there is an ongoing problem with Jews not embracing pride -- in their culture, in their religion, in their traditions, in being Jewish,'' said Korf, adding that Hanukkah is considered a minor holiday among too many Jews. Often called the Festival of Lights, it is also known as the Festival of Rededication.

''Hanukkah is all about maintaining and recognizing and fighting for one's faith,'' said Korf, who said that spiritually speaking, what is going on in 2006 is not too different from what happened in 165 B.C.

Jews all voted Democrat in that year's election too?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 15, 2006 9:36 AM

I don't know. Did the Jews win the battle for Jerusalem that time round?

Posted by: erp at December 15, 2006 10:41 AM

Yes, they won with help from the Romans. 1 Maccabees, 8, 14; 2 Maccabees 14.

Let us contrast the evangelical Christian view of the eschaton, which puts the Jews in possession of Jerusalem, with that of the jailhouse, which demands that every Jew be removed.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 15, 2006 11:38 AM

Well obviously they knew better than to vote for Dems way back then, so what changed?

Posted by: erp at December 15, 2006 4:37 PM

Well, we can say with near certainty that the average Jew in the US today would view the Judas Maccabbeus of history (aka "the Hammer") much as they viewed Ariel Sharon (or worse).

Posted by: ratbert at December 16, 2006 11:14 AM

I'd gotten the impression somewhere that Hannukah was a minor holiday that was over-emphasized because of it falling near Christmas, which even without the market over-hyping is a major religious observance. Am I wrong about this?

Posted by: RC at December 17, 2006 1:56 AM