Temple Har Shalom invites the community to its Hanukkah party
Event will include dinner, games and tradition
Michael Greenfield feels Hanukkah isn’t as much a religious celebration as it is a historical one.
“In the grand scheme of things, [it] is a relatively minor holiday in terms of its religious importance,” said Greenfield, who is the education director for Temple Har Shalom. “It’s focused on the moment in which the temple in ancient Jerusalem was desecrated and retaken by the Jews.”
A small band of Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, drove the Greeks from the land and reclaimed the temple in 168 B.C.
“When the temple is retaken, they immediately begin the process of rededicating it — of purifying it, cleaning it and taking out all of the pagan images and returning it to a sacred space,” Greenfield said when he talked with The Park Record. “The Hebrew word ‘Hanukkah,’ or ‘Chanukah,’ means rededication.”
On Wednesday, Dec. 28, Temple Har Shalom will host its Chanukah Celebration. The event begins at 5:30 p.m.
Admission is $40 for members, $50 for nonmembers, $20 for kids 5 to 18 and free for children ages 4 and younger.
“For the price of admission, attendees will get a full dinner that will include the brisket, chicken, traditional latkes and drinks,” said Deborah Sheldon, the temple’s director of member relations and office administration. “We’ll also have sufganiyot, which are like doughnut holes.”
Children will be able to create items in a craft room or decorate cookies.
“We’ll have all the cookies in shapes of dreidels and menorahs, along with icing and other bits of sugar,” Sheldon said. “We’ll also have a dreidel game going on.”
The dreidel is a children’s tradition that has a number of stories attached to it, Greenfield said.
“Most importantly, the dreidel, in countries other than Israel, has four Hebrew letters on it — Nun, Gimel, He and Shin,” he said. “Those are an acronym for the term ‘Nex Gadol Hayah Sham,’ which means ‘A great miracle happened there.”
The dreidels in Israel don’t have the letter Shin.
“Instead, it has the letter Pei, which stands for the word ‘poh’ that means ‘here,’” Greenfield said. “So that acronym symbolizes ‘A great miracle happened here.’”
Children spin the dreidel for candy.
“If it lands on the Nun, they don’t get anything, but if it lands on the Gimel, they get the whole pot,” Greenfield explained. “If it lands on the He, they get half the pot and if it lands on the Shin, they have to put a piece of candy into the pot.”
This goes along with the Hanukkah tradition of gelt, which is Hanukkah money.
“The gelt has two historical threads behind it,” Greenfield said. “One is the Hanukkah tradition of giving kids coins. In modern days, when we say gelt, we mean the chocolate coins that are wrapped in gold foil.
“The other tradition is that after the rededication of the temple, it was a new political era, so the Jews were reestablishing themselves as a new government and when you do that, you mint new coins,” he said. “The gelt is a symbol of regained independence.”
While the dreidel game and crafts continue on Wednesday, Jeremy Telford, known as the Balloon Guy, will be on hand to create balloon toys for children.
“He also does these large and wonderful balloon pieces,” Sheldon said. “So, I asked him to do something special for us this year.”
The celebration will also include a lighting of a candle in the menorah.
“In addition to the menorah that will be set up outside, we also have a metal Menorah that was created by [local artist] Zaphod Beatlebrox that is in our lobby,” Sheldon said.
The menorah is symbolic to the story of the Hanukkah lights, Greenfield said.
“The lamp at the time of the rededication was simply a ceremonial object, a seven-branched candelabra, as opposed to the nine-branched candelabra, which is used specifically for Hanukkah today,” he said. “It has holders for eight candles, which is one for each night of Hanukkah. The ninth holder, which is typically higher or lower or off to the side is for a helper candle that will light the one candle on each of the nights.”
The seven-branch menorah, however, is depicted in many different works that are connected to the Jewish people.
“It is depicted on symbols connected with the state of Israel and there’s the famous [Arch of Titus] that shows soldiers carrying the seven-branched candelabra,” Greenfield said. “There are other stories in the Jewish texts that talk about when the Jews were cleaning the temple, that they turned the spears into poles to hold oil in an attempt to replicate the candelabra that was stolen and destroyed.”
The Menorah is an object of light and holiness and the oil itself is specifically a pure oil that is required for the temple. Most of it was destroyed as well.”
This is the basis of the story of the Hanukkah Miracle, which is about the light from the oil lasting far longer than was expected.
“We are less focused on the idea of The Miracle as a supernatural event, but as a moment when a small Jewish military force defeated a much larger occupying force, regaining the temple, rededicating themselves to the ideals of the temple and beginning that with light,” Greenfield said. “Jews all over the world will light Hanukkah candles starting this Saturday night, continuing to that tradition of adding light to the world throughout the holiday.”
Sheldon said the Hanukkah celebration is open to the public.
“One of the most important things to us is that we are part of this community and we want to invite the community to everything we do — Friday night services, pet shabbat, High Holy Days and Hanukkah parties,” she said. “Our goal is to make everyone feel welcome and be part of our community as we are part of the Park City community.”
The 2016 Chanukah Celebration will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 28, at Temple Har Shalom, 3700 Brookside Court. Tickets are $50 for nonmembers, $40 for adults and $20 for kids ages 5-18. Children ages 4 and younger are free. To register, visit wwwharshalomparkcity.org.
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