Lo­cal of­fi­cials light meno­rah at B’nai Is­rael

Dorchester Star - - REGIONAL - By JACK RODGERS [email protected]­pub.com

EAS­TON — A short meno­rah light­ing ser­vice at B’nai Is­rael Tem­ple Thurs­day, Dec. 6, was light and in­for­ma­tive, as Rabbi Peter Hy­man gave a his­tory of Hanukkah and some tra­di­tions sur­round­ing the hol­i­day.

“Any ques­tions about Hanukkah?” Hy­man asked the con­gre­ga­tion. “I have one: Why do my kids who are 32 and 34 still get a present tonight?”

Hy­man talked about why peo­ple of the Jewish faith eat fried foods like latkes dur­ing Hanukkah, say­ing the tra­di­tions vary based on the lo­ca­tion of those prac­tic­ing the re­li­gion.

“Dough­nuts were more of a tra­di­tion com­ing out of the Span­ish and Por­tuguese and North African her­itages, and potato pan­cakes, which are called latkes, came out of Europe,” Hy­man said.

Hy­man talked about why peo­ple of the Jewish faith give out choco­late gold coins dur­ing Hanukkah, say­ing the “gelt” goes back to the story of Hanukkah. Hy­man said when the Mac­cabees de­feated the Greek Syr­i­ans, they made a de­cree about the cur­rency.

“One of the first things the Mac­cabees did was to re­quire that coins be minted that were unique and sep­a­rate and dis­tinct from the Greek Ro­man Syr­ian coins,” Hy­man said. “So the coins are a sign of global, na­tional in­de­pen­dence.”

Hy­man said there was no par­tic­u­lar rea­son the meno­rah light­ing ser­vice was tak­ing place on the fifth day of Hanukkah. He said usu­ally the con­gre­ga­tion tries to sched­ule a meno­rah light­ing ser­vice for the sec­ond to last day of Hanukkah, so more peo­ple can at­tend.

Hy­man thanked his meno­rah lighters, who were as­sorted lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Tal­bot County Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Corey Pack, Eas­ton Mayor Robert Wil­ley, Sen. Ad­die Eckardt, R-37-MidShore, and Tal­bot County Coun­cil­woman Laura Price.

Hy­man also thanked Pas­tor James Nash of Saints Peter and Paul Par­ish for his do­na­tion of a piece of He­brew cal­lig­ra­phy. The piece hangs in the back of the lobby of the B’nai Is­rael Tem­ple.

“If you look at that, the He­brew that is cal­ligraphed on that piece is the same phrase that is writ­ten here on the left of the To­rah reader stand,” Hy­man said. “’It is the tree of life to those who hold on fast to it,’ and the an­tecedent to the pro­noun it in this case is the bi­ble, is the To­rah.”

As the con­gre­ga­tion moved to the lobby where an elec­tric meno­rah was wait­ing, Hy­man said the mir­a­cle of Hanukkah. When the Mac­cabees reded­i­cated a tem­ple won back dur­ing their war with the Greek Syr­i­ans, they found one jar of oil that lasted for eight days.

Sym­bols of this mir­a­cle, the ner tamid or eter­nal light can be found through­out the sanctuary, Hy­man said.

The ser­vice closed with a fi­nal bless­ing be­fore light­ing the elec­tric meno­rah.

“The first bless­ing says, ‘Blessed are you oh God, holy spirit of the uni­verse, who sanc­ti­fies us by your com­mand­ments and com­mands us to light the lights of Hanukkah,’” Hy­man said.

PHOTO BY JACK RODGERS

Sen. Ad­die Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore, pushes a but­ton on the elec­tric meno­rah to light it dur­ing the meno­rah light­ing cer­e­mony at B’nai Is­rael Tem­ple Thurs­day, Dec. 6.

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