menorah

Chanukah this year begins on Dec. 10 until the 18th. While the candelabra in the Holy Temple had seven branches, Chanukah menorahs — candelabras — have eight. What is the reason behind this? Chanukah celebrates the miracle of a tiny jug of oil lasting eight days.

To provide a little background:

Around the year 170 BCE, the Holy Land was ruled by the Syrian-Greeks, who tried to force the Jews to abandon their mitzvah observance and belief in G‑d. The Syrian-Greek Army broke into the Holy Temple seeking to destroy it. All the olive oil designated for the Menorah was contaminated in the process. When the Jews reclaimed the Temple, only one small flask was found and the Kohen used it to kindle the Menorah. Miraculously, the tiny bit of oil burned for the eight days it took to produce more.

To represent this great miracle, today we light a Menorah with eight branches, adding an additional candle each night of Chanukah.

Chanukah is traditionally a time when families, neighbors and communities come together in celebration. With Covid in our midst, we are unable to gather like before. The need for additional light is more prevalent and important in these hard, and often lonely, times. Chabad of Sierra Vista is committed to being a source of light and bringing the spirit of Chanukah to the entire county.

Two drive-in public Menorah lightings have been arranged, one in Sierra Vista and the other in Benson. Participants will stay in their cars, watch the lighting and enjoy some Chanukah music and treats. Two additional in-person festivities will take place in Bisbee and Ft Huachuca where attendees are asked to please maintain social distancing and wear masks.

Proper precautions will be in place.

However it does not end there. You, too, can be an ambassador of light. Lighting your own candles during Chanukah is only the beginning. Help bring light to others, by donating to Chabad of Sierra Vista’s canned food drive and by making sure every Jew in Cochise County has a Menorah.

Last year, at Chabad’s community Chanukah celebration, I offered a Menorah to an individual. The gentleman declined, stating that he already had one. I insisted he take it and commented, “If you meet another Jew over the next few days, please give this to them. This way, we can both have a part in spreading light.”

Sure enough, the next evening this individual texted me in amazement. “Rabbi! I’m in Odessa, Texas. A client’s boyfriend saw me light my Menorah and asked if he can recite the Chanukah blessings. I joyfully responded that the Rabbi in Sierra Vista has ensured that you too could light. This second menorah is for you!”

Chabad of Sierra Vista will gladly gift a Menorah kit to anyone looking to keep spreading the Chanukah lights. You never know who you may meet and who can use a Menorah.

To learn more about Chanukah and for candle lighting instructions, visit JewishSierraVista.com/Chanukah

For our Chanukah schedule, visit JewishSierraVista.com/Calendar

To request a Menorah kit or Chanukah candles, call (520) 820-6256 or email Rabbi@JewishSierraVista.com.

Submitted by Rabbi Benzion Shemtov