Hanukkah begins at sundown Saturday: Rabbi says it is more like Independence Day than Christmas

11:14 AM, Dec 7, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Florida (WTLV) -- As Jewish people prepare for the beginning of Hanukkah, a Jacksonville Rabbi is reminding people of all faiths the meaning behind the celebration.

"I think the best parallel for Hanukkah would actually be the 4th of July," explained Rabbi Joshua Lief, the Senior Rabbi at Congregation Ahavath Chesed off of San Jose Boulevard in Jacksonville.

Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians who tried to force them to worship the Greek Gods under their rule.    

"It's really a celebration of freedom, particularly the freedom of religion, not only for ourselves but for all people," Rabbi Lief said.  

After reclaiming their Temple, the Maccabees rededicated the Temple to God.  There was only enough oil to light the eternal flame for one day, but it miraculously lasted for eight nights.

"In Hebrew we are told to 'publicize the miracle,' pirsumay nisa," the Rabbi shared.  "So some people will actually put an electric menorah in their window and say, 'It's the second night.  It's the third night.  It's the fourth night.'"

Jewish people mark each night of Hanukkah by lighting a candle in a menorah at sundown.  They add one additional candle for every night of the celebration.

Rabbi Lief said Hanukkah should act as a reminder to people of all faiths.

"The message I think is that we must dedicate ourselves-each of us, everyone in our community-to our own chosen faith and find it meaningful," Lief explained. 

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