Temple hosts The Greatest Hanukkah on Earth!
It’s the celebration of one of America’s most fundamental ideas – the freedom of religion, Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon says of The Greatest Hanukkah on Earth! IX.
And Sunday’s Hanukkah celebration at Tucson’s Temple Emanu-El is “the perfect event,” he says, “because it involves people of all ages – from the 3-year-olds to the 90-year-olds.”
Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish military victory over the Greeks nearly 2,200 years ago.
The Maccabean revolt arose during the oppressive reign of Antiochus IV as king of Syria 175 B.C.-164 B.C., who decreed the abolition of Jewish religious practices.
When the victorious Jews rededicated the Jerusalem temple in 165 B.C., according to legend, though there was just enough clean oil to keep the Eternal Light burning for one day, it miraculously lasted eight days.
Thus Hanukkah observes the event with the lighting of candles over eight days.
To kick off the Festival of Lights (as Hanukkah is also known), members of Temple Emanu-El will light the 12-foot outdoor menorah at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Each successive night over the eight-day observance, another candle will be lit at the temple, 225 N. Country Club Road.
All are invited to participate in the lighting, says Mila Anderson, Emanu-El’s outreach coordinator. Participants can dedicate the nights to loved ones who have died, discuss how one is rededicating themselves to their religion or demonstrate Jewish values, she said.
Menorah lighting during The Greatest Hanukkah on Earth! at the temple will be 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Families are uged to bring and light Hanukkah menorahs with candles.
The event includes dancing, singing, kid-friendly activities and a play about the story of Hanukkah.
The religious school’s youth and adult choirs – led by Rabbis Cohon and Ben Sharff – will offer traditional Hanukkah music, and Avanim Rock Band will perform.
Dinner of kosher brisket and potato latkes will be served at 6 p.m. A fair, including clowns and arts and crafts, starts at 6:15.
The festival is a way for people to learn more about the religion, Cohon says. “It allows people to participate in Hanukkah songs and the celebration. It’s a great introduction to Judaism, so people can see what it is we do.”
Says Anderson: “It’s a time to bring together the wonderful families for food and a wonderful celebration. The root of the holiday . . . is the struggle for independence and a miraculous victory of the few over the many.
“We have survived and we make this choice to recommit ourselves to our faith and to our tradition.”
IF YOU GO
What: The Greatest Hanukkah on Earth! IX
Where: Temple Emanu-El, 225 N. Country Club Road
When: 4:30 p.m. Sunday
Price: The show is free; dinner is $18 to temple members, $25 for others, $6 for ages 6-12 and free to 5 and younger. Dinner reservations are required.
Info: 327-4501, www.templeemanueltucson.org