- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 30, 2002

Hanukkah, the annual eight-day observance of Jewish faith and resistance against oppression that began last night, has taken on special significance this year as Jews reflect on violence in the Middle East and Africa, a local rabbi said yesterday.
"It shows the struggle to protect Judaism and the Jewish identity is ever constant," said Rabbi Mark Raphael of the Kehilat Shalom Temple in Gaithersburg. "It shows that the strength of our identity, because of the Maccabbean conflict, is ever constant."
On Thursday, terrorists killed 12 persons in an Israeli-owned hotel in the beachfront town of Mombasa, Kenya. In a separate incident, a passenger jet carrying more than 200 people heading toward Tel Aviv was not harmed when it was fired upon by two surface-to-air missiles.
A pro-Palestine group called the Government of Universal Palestine in Exile, the Army of Palestine has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians in 170 B.C. and the subsequent rededication of the Jerusalem temple.
When the Maccabees went to put lights around the Torah, the first five books that make up the Old Testament, there was only enough ritually prepared oil to last one night. Miraculously, the oil lasted eight nights.
"That story clearly teaches us that it was not a military victory but a victory of God's will," Mr. Raphael said.
Hanukkah is a family holiday and is observed in homes with special foods and games. The menorah is lit precisely at sundown and placed in a prominent place to spread the word of God's blessings.
"It is primarily a home holiday. The menorah is supposed to be placed in a window or other obvious place where it can be seen to publicize the miracle," Mr. Raphael said.
The celebration of Hanukkah follows the Jewish calendar, and the dates it is observed vary from year to year. Mr. Raphael said that this time in November is the earliest it can be celebrated.
Congregation Beth El in Bethesda posted information on its Web site giving day-by-day instructions on how to light the menorah, a nine-pronged candelabra, as well as the significance of each day.
"These Hanukkah lights are in memory of the dedication and courage of the Maccabees. As we rekindle this light, we rededicate ourselves to work for freedom and equal rights of all people," the Web site reads.


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