We are fast approaching Hanukah 2020 in Tel Aviv! Even with the dark cloud of Covid19, Tel Aviv will manage to spread some brightness for this sweet festival! Artisan patisseries are starting to dress their displays with mouthwatering donuts, each looking more delicious and calorific than the next! We are certainly spoilt for choice and Hanukah 2020 in Tel Aviv will not be any different. All the donut offerings look scrumptious and are as delightful on the palate they are as fatal for the figure! Personally, I think I’ll pass on the designer “sufganiyot” and instead savor my way through a couple of equally satisfying jammy donuts. Without a regular exercise regime to keep me in check, I am already on the way to becoming a donut myself! Hanukah 2020 in Tel Aviv, like much of this Corona year, will be about enjoying the light of this festival in any way we can. Sharing food, spending time with family, and laughing with close friends. Sadly we are limited in celebration. Holidays once very much “in your face” are now so much less obvious. As I walk down the store-lined streets, half of the shops are closed, some permanently. Those that remain this Hanukah 2020 in Tel Aviv display their windows with a pyramid of holiday paraphernalia in the hope that this will cheer our spirits and empty our pockets. We have an abundance of dreidels (spinning tops) of painted wood, paper mache, and traditional filigree silver. We have contemporary chanukiah or menorah (the nine-branched candelabra used during Hanukah), all designed in a variety of treated metals, glass, pottery, and wood. Each item used as an artful reminder of the importance of the festival of light. All to ensure that your Hanukah burns truly bright bringing this year a healthy and significant light!
We are proudly blue and white, but Hanukah 2020 in Tel Aviv is full of hope that we will be soon celebrating every nations color! We warmly welcome in this Holy festival with sweetness and blessings both here in Israel and, with all Jews and Zionists across the globe.
Aside from the other festive gourmet delights, such as crispy fried latkes (potato cakes) and candy parcels for Covid19 crazy kids, what does Hanukah represent? Why is it each year we light the eight candles on the Hanukiah? All the rituals for Hanukiah, are to commemorate our devotion and re-commitment to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It is not only a festive period but a time that we remember the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. It is the time we thankfully recall the triumph of light over darkness.
At the time of the 2nd Temple, the ruling Greek dynasty accepted the Jewish Torah as a book of wisdom. Unfortunately, they refused to acknowledge it’s significance to the actual Jewish faith. The Greeks decreed that learning the Torah was forbidden and seized all Jewish property and possessions. Further abuse of their power and disrespect for the Jews was to place idols of worship at the Holy Temple (Beit HaMikdash). The Jewish people without homes or hope were afraid to stand up against this tyranny. However, one brave man Mattityahu and his sons, the Maccabees were not. Against all odds, the Maccabees fought back and drove the cruel oppressor from the Holy Land.
During their occupation, the Greeks had defiled the Temple and made the oil impure. Fortunately, the Maccabees uncovered one jar that had been overlooked but, which contained sufficient oil for one day only. Their unwavering faith again gave them courage, so they lit this last jar and released another miracle. The oil burned for eight days! This was cause for great happiness and with daily life restored and the Temple cleansed, the Jewish faith became even stronger.
Hanukah 2020 in Tel Aviv will be observed for eight nights and days commencing on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar. This coincides with the secular dates of 10th (evening of) until the evening of 18th December 2020. During this period, we are constantly reminded of the miracles of Hanukah. We are encouraged to recall the small band of heroic Jews against the great Greek army and the one jar of simple oil lasting for eight days. We remember that it is because of these extraordinary events we celebrate our freedom from the darkness to the light.
The Jewish people, honor Hanukah by kindling the lights (candles) of the Hanukiah, one for each evening throughout the holiday until we reach the final night. Each of the eight candles is lit with the ninth, known as the ‘Shamash’ (he who attends), and is placed either in the center of the menorah or in a distinct location to separate it from the rest. Then we do what we’re really great at, we eat, we drink, we sing, we joke and play with dreidels!
Happy Hanukah 2020 and may the Festival of Lights shine some brightness on these dark days.