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    The Festival of Lights

    Can’t believe it’s already mid-December and almost Christmas. Hanukah, the Festival of Lights, started for me last night and lasts the full eight days to commemorate the miracle of the lamp that burned for eight days. Christmas eve starts the day after the last candle is lit.

    The candles are placed in what’s called a “Menorah” and I lit the first candle last night. When Herman and I first met I told him he had to buy me a gift for each night of the festival. I think he knew I was kidding.

    Herman and I just looked up on the Fulton County Chamber Calendar to see what was happening and didn’t see any celebration for Hanakuh. But usually in the synagogue at Knesseth Israel in Gloversville there is a dinner that we go to. Traditional foods such as potato latkes is something that is always served.

    According to the “Jewish Virtual Library” on the Web, “Chanukah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews (and even many assimilated Jews!) think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving.”

    I remember the menorah we used to use when I was a kid. It had eight candle-holders and a miniature replica of the synagogue we went to growing up. I now have a beautiful menorah that I got from Knesseth Israel Synagogue and  it’s really something seeing it all lit up.

    I’ve seen many pictures and paintings of Hanukah menorahs and it really is something to behold when you see one.

    The JewishVirtual Library goes on to say that, “According to tradition as recorded in the Talmud, at the time of the rededication, there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Greeks. Oil was needed for the menorah (candelabrum) in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days. An eight day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle.”

    The Talmud is the Jewish oral law in writing.

    What really surprises me is everything recently I’ve learned about Judaism is through Herman, who is a Christian. Whatever your tradition is this year I hope you have a great holiday.

    Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com