As the sun set over the islands of the Bahamas on December 9, the Jewish community gathered at the Nassau Sheraton Beach Resort to welcome in the second night of the eight-day long festival of Hanukkah.
Also known as the festival of lights, Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt. The holiday is observed by lighting a nine-branched menorah, one light each night.
“The holiday of Hanukkah is a festival of an historic victory and celebration for all times, highlighted by the kindling of menorahs each night of the holiday,” said Rabbi Sholom Bluming, from Chabad of the Bahamas.
“Yet it also contains a universal message for people of all faiths: that ultimately good will triumph over evil; freedom over oppression; and light over darkness,” he said.
Hanukkah is steeped in traditions that stretch back thousands of years, including lighting candles, giving gifts to children and eating fried treats. The fried food symbolises the oil that miraculously burned for eight days when the Maccabees purified and rededicated the Second temple in Jerusalem close to 2000 years ago.
“The Hanukkah celebration was exciting and fun for all ages”, said David, a local member of the community. A world-renowned mentalist added a memorable touch to the evening for the adults, while the children enjoyed getting their faces painted and designing holiday featured arts and crafts. Following the giant Menorah lighting everyone enjoyed a full course holiday meal with special traditional Hanukkah treats, including fried jelly donuts and potato based latkes.
“In ancient times our ancestors rededicated the temple in Jerusalem with the menorah. Today, we rededicate ourselves to making this world a better and brighter place”, said Rabbi Sholom Bluming.
The holiday of Hanukkah is a festival of an historic victory and celebration for all times. Yet it also contains a universal message for people of all faiths.
“The menorah is the ultimate display of joy and unity,” said Sarah, a guest at the celebration.
“The message of Hanukkah is one of hope in the face of extreme adversity. It is a message with broad appeal to everyone who believes in religious freedom and that faith and determination can triumph against even the most overwhelming odds. The lesson to us today is simple, light a candle; when you encounter darkness conquer it with light,” said Rabbi Bluming.
The festival continues until December 15, with one candle being added for each night until all eight are lit.
For more information, contact Rabbi Sholom Bluming at RabbiBluming@yahoo.com.