Kislev: not just a month for Maccabees
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