Celebrating Hanukkah In The Holy Land

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWSPAPER)

 

JERUSALEM (RNS) – Yael Horovitz, who immigrated to Israel from Australia, always loved the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, but the emphasis there on Christmas made her feel a little left out.

“In Australia, for two months out of the year I couldn’t escape Christmas carols,” said Horovitz, who is Jewish. “Being forced to listen to them in supermarkets, shopping centers, on the radio and TV bothered me.”

Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of lights that commemorates the Maccabees’ victory over their Greek-Syrian oppressors in 167 B.C., as well as the re-dedication of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, was barely acknowledged by most Australians, Horovitz said.

But Hanukkah, which begins at sundown Tuesday, is an altogether different experience for her now.

Ten years ago Horovitz moved to Israel, where Jews comprise roughly 75% of the population. Here, the holiday season “feels so right,” she said. “This is my religion, these are my songs, my decorations, my kids being educated to love their heritage, and being embraced by it from all sides.”

Hanukkah in the Holy Land gives Horovitz and other Jews who have immigrated to Israel from Western countries a sense of belonging they don’t feel anywhere else. In Israel, though Hanukkah is not a national holiday, most of the nation celebrates it.

That’s a big contrast to the way many American Jews feel at Christmastime, said Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University.

“Christmas is the one day of the year when many American Jews experience a sense that they are outsiders in America” because Christmas, a religious holiday, is also a national holiday, Sarna said.

Although Hanukkah is a minor festival on the Jewish calendar, Sarna said, more than a century ago American Jews elevated the holiday “as a way to ensure that they were not left out of the holiday spirit.”

Their goal, Sarna said, was to ensure that Jewish children would be happy and proud of their own winter holiday and not want to celebrate the holiday of another religion.

Even so, if you live in the U.S., “it is impossible to avoid Santa and Christmas music and holiday lights. It’s the time of year when the differences between Jews and their neighbors seem most stark.”

That’s not the case in Israel, Sarna said, where Hanukkah and not Christmas is the dominant December holiday. Just 2.1 percent of Israelis are Christian; 17 percent are Muslim; 1.7 percent are Druze. The remaining 4 percent belong to other religious minorities or have no religion.

Although Hanukkah in Israel remains far less commercialized than it is in the U.S., with shopping malls hanging nary a holiday decoration, it has more recently taken on some of its American trappings.

This week, Osher Ad, a large Jerusalem supermarket, had two aisles’ worth of Hanukkah-related products, from elaborate faux-silver menorahs to imported paper Hanukkah plates and napkins and dreidel-shaped containers filled with chocolate candies.

And rather than sell only simple jelly doughnuts, a traditional Hanukkah treat, now bakeries around the country create fancy and expensive Western-style doughnuts.

Jewish children are on school break the week of Hanukkah, so movie theaters time their new releases to the vacation. Festigal, a live music and dance show for children, is an annual tradition.

Compared with the holiday season in the U.S., however, Hanukkah in Israel is low-key. Families gather to light the menorah – some have a separate one for each child – and eat doughnuts or potato pancakes fried in oil. (Oily foods are eaten on Hanukkah to commemorate the “miracle” of the holiday, when enough oil to light a lamp for just one night lasted for eight.)

Some parents give their children presents – though almost never more than a couple — or Hanukkah “gelt” – both money and chocolate coins.

Orthodox families like to light their menorahs outside, in glass containers, so everyone who passes can soak up their light.

Tsipi Amiri, whose family lived in the U.S. until she was 10, said she doesn’t miss the “commercialization” of the holiday season or the pressure to celebrate Hanukkah with lots of fanfare and gifts.

“There was this competition within the American Jewish community about who got what,” Amiri said. “Thankfully, I don’t see that here.”

More: When is Hanukkah and what does it celebrate?

Netanya Carmi said the first thing she noticed during her first Israeli Hanukkah 20 years ago was that many stores close early every night and evening classes at universities are canceled so all can go home and light candles with their families.

“Here in Israel, Hanukkah is all about tradition and family,” Carmi said.

Revelation Chapter #4

 

Revelation Chapter #4

Chapter #4 only has 11 verses in it. These 11 verses break down into three different sections, or categories. Verses one through three is about the Throne of God in Heaven. Verses four and five are about the 24 Elders that are around the Throne of God. Then verses six through eleven are about the four Creatures that are at the Throne of God. Remember, the person that is writing this material to us is the Apostle John the things he is being shown are via an Angel of God. I have been debating whether to type out these eleven verses or to just explain their meanings to folks but I have decided to type them out for you because I realize that there are some people who may be reading this who do not have access to a Bible, I realize that there are some places here on this planet where it is actually dangerous to be in possession of a Bible so for these reasons I will take the time to type these 11 verses out.

Starting with 4:1 “After this I looked and beheld a door opened in Heaven. And the first voice which I heard was as if it were a trumpet talking with me, which said, come up here and I will show you things which will be in the future.” “Then immediately I was in the Spirit and beheld a Throne which was set in Heaven and one sat on the Throne.” “He that sat on the Throne was like looking upon a jasper and a sardine stone. And there was a rainbow round about the Throne, the color was like looking onto and emerald.”

“Round about the Throne were four and twenty seats. Upon the seats I saw 24 Elders sitting. They were clothed in white raiment and upon their heads were crowns of gold.”

“Then out of the Throne proceeded lightning and thundering and voices. There were seven lamps of fire burning before the Throne, which are the Seven Spirits of God.”

“Before the Throne there was a sea of glass which was like unto crystal. In the midst of the Throne and round about the Throne were four Beasts full of eyes in front and behind.”

“The first Beast was like a Lion, the second Beast was like a Calf, the third Beast had the face of a Man, the fourth Beast was like a flying Eagle.”

“Each of the four Beasts had six wings about him, each of them were full of eyes within and they did not rest day of night. And they were saying Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, which is, and is to come.”

“And then the Beasts gave glory and honor and thanks to Him that sat on the Throne, who lives for ever and ever and ever.”

“And then the 24 Elders fell down before Him that sat on the Throne and worshiped Him that lives forever and ever, and they cast down their crowns before the Throne, saying thou art worthy O Lord to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and for Your pleasure they are and were created.”

Well folks, that is the 11 verses, now I will do my best to explain a few things within those verses to hopefully make them easier for some folks to understand. What John was shown was an actual open door into Heaven unlike with Jacob when he witnessed a stairway to Heaven (Bethel). Now Jacob did not go up to Heaven yet John was called up to Heaven. But notice, John was called up ‘in the Spirit’, the reason is simple, there is no flesh in Heaven, God, His Angels and all who are in Heaven are Spirits, flesh is unclean and will never be allowed in Heaven.

The Book of Revelation was written in the Greek language, in verse number one it starts off with the words ‘after this’, in the Greek it is written “meta tauta” this is written at the beginning of the verse and at the end of this verse. The meta tauta that John was speaking of was ‘after the Rapture’. The Rapture is the event where Christ comes back to Earth with His Angels. At that time the dead in Christ will rise first then those who are still alive that are and have remained faithful to Him will depart this Earth in the twinkling (blink) of the eye to be with Jesus. In the English Bible you will not find the word ‘rapture’, but then again, the Bible was not written in the English language 1,900 or so odd years ago, it was written in the Greek language. Disclaimer here, the New Testament was written in Greek, the Old Testament was written in Hebrew. Now back to the Greek, instead of the word rapture the Greek word was Harpazo which defines as  “caught up, raptured, or snatched up.” Well folks, I hope that this chapter was easy enough for everyone to understand, if you have any questions, go ahead and ask them. I will always do my best to answer them as simplistically as possible. I hope that everyone was able to have a good and a safe Christmas and for our Jewish friends I hope you had a great Hanukkah, good night, God bless.