Olympia Celebrates a Festival of Lights

by Christian Carvajal for OLY ARTS

One of the joys of living in a broad, multicultural society is the resulting plethora of holiday celebrations. Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, begins at sundown on Tuesday, December 12 this year and lasts for eight full days. It commemorates the revolt of the Hebrew Maccabees against the Seleucid dynasty and its Hellenistic religious rites, along with the rededication of the second Temple of Jerusalem. (The name Hanukkah is Hebrew for dedication.) Jews around the world celebrate these events on Kislev 25, but Hebrews used a lunisolar calendar, so that date shifts from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. The menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum, refers to a miracle described in the Scroll of Antiochus: When it was time to recleanse the temple, “the God of heaven Whose name dwells there” extended a one-day supply of lamp oil to brighten “eight days of joy and honor.” To this day, gifts are exchanged, the Yiddish dreidel game is played and sweet treats — often symbolically deep-fried in oil — are consumed.

Our community is blessed with two thriving Jewish organizations, Chabad Jewish Center in Tumwater (1770 Barnes Blvd. SW) and Temple Beth Hatfiloh in downtown Olympia. Chabad, a learning center for Jewish students led by Rabbi Yosef Schtroks, celebrates Hanukkah with two public events. There will be a menorah-building workshop for children at 3 p.m. on Dec. 3 at the Tumwater Home Depot. “There will be Hanukkah music, Hanukkah treats and other Hanukkah highlights,” said Rabbi Schtroks. The ninth-annual, public menorah lighting will take place in Sylvester Park 5 p.m. on Tuesday, December 12. Continues Rabbi Schtroks, “We’re going to first light the menorah right there in the middle of the park, together with municipal and state officials and community leaders. That will be followed by a Hanukkah party at the Governor Hotel, with lots more food and entertainment for the kids.”

At Temple Beth Hatfiloh, directed by Rabbi Seth Goldstein, the fifth-night celebration includes a community candle-lighting, crafts, games and a dessert potluck with the traditional latkes (Ashkenazi potato pancakes) and applesauce. Shalom!

WHAT  Hanukkah party

WHERE Temple Beth Hatfiloh,
201 Eighth Ave. SE, Olympia

WHEN  5-9:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17


360-754-8519 | Temple Beth Hatfiloh

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