Why I Celebrate Chanukah

iStock_000007213707LargeBy Jack Zimmerman,
Staff Evangelist for Jewish Voice

Ah, the aroma of potato pancakes frying in oil. This can mean only one thing—Chanukah has again arrived!

It’s that special time of year when we Jews celebrate the fact that when the Second Temple was desecrated around 164 B.C. by Antiochus and his troops, there was only enough oil to last for one day in the lampstand at the re-dedication ceremony. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, and—voila!—there you go . . . instant Jewish holiday!

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York (the other Holy Land), I have memories of lighting another candle each night on the traditional Chanukah menorah. One day, however, the Zimmerman family took note that electricity had indeed been discovered, and that small screw-in bulbs rather than candles were much easier to use and didn’t drip like the candles did.

One year at Chanukah, we had a Chanukah bush. This is basically the Jewish version of a Christmas tree. On steroids.

Our response to the traditional Douglas fir at Christmas was a multi-colored metallic frilled bush, which could also be used to give you better reception on your television set, long after the holiday had ended and long before the advent of cable.

But perhaps my fondest memory of Chanukah was finding out from a highly reputable source (my fourth grade friend Scott Diamond), that while the Christian kids got one present for Christmas, we got eight presents, one for each day of Chanukah. Armed with this valuable news, I rushed home one day from school to excitedly announce this to my Mother.

The gist of the conversation went as follows:

Me: Mom, I just found out I get eight presents at Chanukah; one for each day!

Mom: It’s raining and you went out without an umbrella?! You could catch a cold! What if you got pneumonia?  You know, your Uncle Manny once went out in the rain without an umbrella, and do you know what happened to him?

Me: He got wet?

Mom: Yes. But he could have caught pneumonia!

That pretty much ended the conversation.

Many years later, though, I realized that the festival was much more about presence than presents.

While Chanukah is normally regarded as solely a Jewish holiday, it has always been a Yeshua Holiday! John 10:22-24 records that Yeshua Himself acknowledged and observed this festival, and it goes without saying that this Festival of Lights for me, always was, is, and always will be about the Light of the world. . .

And umbrellas.

Jewish Voice Ministries International

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