Chanukah - Embracing Our Identity
Proudly dedicated in loving memory of Rev. Abraham and Lena Chait, Dr Ronald and Golda Steinberg and Mrs Hannah Feldman A”H.
In the well-known Chanukah story that we recall every year, the Syrian-Greek Emperor, Antiochus IV, turned Jewish religious observance into a capital offence. He focused specifically on brit milah, Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, and Torah study, as they are the foundations of our observance. Rosh Chodesh was the first commandment to be given to the Jewish nation, just as brit milah was commanded to the first Jew. Shabbat is the ot (the manifestation) of our covenant with God, and study of Torah is the everlasting undertaking we made as a nation at Mount Sinai. The Greeks believed that curtailing the practice of these four would destroy our unique identity, by breaking down the spiritual being of the Jew. However, Antiochus’s attempt to impose Hellenistic idealism foundered, and we Jews today celebrate the festival of Chanukah, declaring our religious authenticity to be very much alive and well. We light the menorah each night in festivity and in tribute to the victory of the Maccabees in rededicating our priorities and our Holy Temple – aided by the Hand of God.
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Cantor Albert Chait
Reverend Albert Chait is Chief Cantor and Minister of the United Hebrew Congregation of Leeds.