Kislev: not just a month for Mac­cabees

The Jewish Chronicle - - JC SPECIAL - BY NATHAN JEF­FAY

HAT HAPP E N E D O N t h e 2 5 t h o f t h e He b r e w m o n t h of Kislev? Of course, you say, the mir­a­cle of Chanu­cah started. Cor­rect, but there is more.

Kislev has been a par­tic­u­larly busy month for the Jewish Peo­ple over the years and, as we cel­e­brate Chanu­cah, we can give a nod to th­ese other lay­ers of the Jewish past.

Chanu­cah is all about the reded­i­ca­tion of the an­cient Tem­ple, but did you know that Kislev 25 is also about ded­i­ca­tion and con­struc­tion of other Jewish re­li­gious spa­ces?

It is a key date in the history of Amer­i­can Jewry. On the first day of Chanu­cah in 1763, the old­est Amer­i­can syn­a­gogue that stands to­day was built. The Touro Syn­a­gogue is in New­port, Rhode Is­land, and has been wow­ing visi­tors since its ren­o­va­tion nine years ago.

Kislev 25 is ac­tu­ally the date on which the struc­ture was built that can be con­sid­ered the mother of all sy­n­a­gogues. Be­fore even the an­cient Tem­ples, the Is­raelites had the

the por­ta­ble sanc­tu­ary used by the Is­raelites dur­ing their multi-decade so­journ in the wilder­ness. Ac­cord­ing to tra­di­tion, this struc­ture, which is de­scribed by scrip­ture in great de­tail, was com­pleted on Kislev 25.

Chanu­cah eve, Kislev 24, was an im­por­tant time in the build­ing of the Sec­ond Tem­ple. Cyrus the Great al­lowed the Jews to build the Sec­ond Tem­ple shortly af­ter be­com­ing king of the Per­sian Em­pire in 538 BCE. Foun­da­tions were laid but, the

states, “it is doubt­ful if any build­ing was then done”. The “real re­build­ing” be­gan in the sec­ond year of the reign of Dar­ius Hys­taspes, 519 BCE — and ac­cord­ing to tra­di­tion the date of the restart was Kislev 24.

There are var­i­ous other happy events tied to Kislev. It is prob­a­bly best to over­look the be­lief that the first day of Chanu­cah is also said to be the date when mur­der was first seen in the world, with Cain killing Abel, and in­stead fo­cus on a hap­pier mo­ment from Ge­n­e­sis, namely the end of the flood.

Kislev 27 is quoted as the date when the flood ended with a rain­bow and a prom­ise by God to Noah and his sons: “I now es­tab­lish my covenant with you and with your de­scen­dants af­ter you and with ev­ery liv­ing crea­ture that was with you, the birds, the live­stock and all the wild an­i­mals, all those that came out of the ark with you, ev­ery liv­ing crea­ture on Earth. I es­tab­lish my covenant with you: never again will all life be de­stroyed by the wa­ters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to de­stroy the Earth.”

The penul­ti­mate day of Chanu­cah is re­mem­bered as corona­tion day — the day when Es­ther be­came queen, with King Aha­suerus plac­ing the crown on her head and paving the way for her role in avert­ing the de­struc­tion of the Jews.

So, a trip back into the past gives us even more to cel­e­brate dur­ing Chanu­cah. And now for the quintessen­tially Jewish ques­tion — what ex­tra foods can we in­sti­tute to mark th­ese other mo­ments?

Kislev 27 is said to be the date when God ended the flood with a rain­bow and a prom­ise

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