CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
A Weekly Column From Members of the
Scotch PlainsFanwood Ministerial Association
History and Symbolism of Hanukkah Examined, Compared Throughout Ages
By RABBI GEORGE NUDELL
What is Hanukkah? It is not the “Jewish Christmas,” though it falls nearby on the calendar. It is not a holiday about gift giving, though presents are often exchanged. It is not a holiday celebrating the struggle for religious freedom, though it is commonly portrayed as such.
Hanukkah is an eightday festival that has been celebrated by Jewish people for over 2,000 years. Hanukkah’s significance is tied to the history of the land of Israel, the ancient and modern homeland of the Jewish people.
The story of Hanukkah began about 150 years after Alexander the Great spread Hellenistic culture from his native Greece through Egypt, Israel and Syria.
Like most ancient people, the Jews of ancient Israel enjoyed Hellenistic culture. They readily accepted the styles of clothing, the Greek language, the architecture and the philosophy of the Hellenistic world. Many Jews willingly abandoned their own customs for the “modern” ways of the world.
Other Jews, however, passionately held on to the Torah (Bible) and its ethical heritage and practices. In time, the Jewish community of Israel grew deeply divided, and a struggle flared up, as both factions sought to influence the practices of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
This struggle frightened Emperor Antiochus of Syria. At that time, the Syrians controlled the economy and politics of the land of Israel.
Antiochus kept a watchful eye over Israel, and worried about losing his influence to the Egyptians or the growing empire of Rome. To keep peace in Israel, Antiochus sided with the more Hellenistic faction of the Jews. He invaded the land of Israel, and endorsed pagan sacrifices and practices in the Holy Temple. This proved to be a fatal mistake.
A traditionalist family of Jews, the Hasmoneans, also called the Maccabees, rallied many Jews against Antiochus. The Maccabees waged a guerrilla war and threatened to invite the Romans to fight with them. After capturing the Temple mount in Jerusalem, the Maccabees declared independence from Syria.
A cease fire was established, and Israel once again became an autonomous state.
Being faithful to the laws of the Torah, the Maccabees purged the Temple of all pagan influence. They rededicated the Temple’s seven branched candelabra, or Menorah, using the only undesecrated vessel of olive oil they could find. The Maccabees declared a festival to honor their victory. This became the festival of Hanukkah, which in English means “dedication.”
Today, Hanukkah is primarily observed by the lighting of candles, to recall the rededication of the Menorah in the Temple of Jerusalem. The Talmud, a sacred book of Jewish law and lore, tells of a miracle that transpired when the Maccabees rededicated the Temple.
That last pure vessel of olive oil should have lasted only one day, but it burned in the Menorah for eight days. This was taken as a sign of God’s approval that the traditions of the Torah had been defended.
Over the centuries, the observance of Hanukkah became a time to remember the courage and faithfulness of those who fought to preserve Jewish heritage.
The modern meaning of the festival of Hanukkah is linked to its ancient story. Living as a minority in the blessed comfort of democracy, modern Jews face the same critical question as their ancient ancestors did. Can Jewish traditions be preserved in the face of other strong cultural and religious influences?
This challenge has added to the significance of Hanukkah. At the very same time their Christian neighbors are decorating and preparing for Christmas, modern Jews have renewed their connection to Hanukkah.
As they light their Hanukkah candles, today’s Jews reconnect to their own noble Jewish heritage.
This year, Hanukkah begins on Friday evening, December 3, and it lasts until sundown on December 11. May it be an opportunity for Jewish people everywhere to rededicate themselves to Jewish tradition.
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Rabbi George Nudell serves at Congregation Beth Israel, Scotch Plains.
– Directory to Houses of Worship –
ALL SAINTS’ EPISCOPAL CHURCH 559 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains
Reverend Thomas Laws
BETHEL BAPTIST CHURCH 539 Trinity Place, Westfield
Reverend Kevin Clark
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTERDAY SAINTS 1781 Raritan Road, Scotch Plains
Bishop Linden Slaugh
COMMUNITY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH Deer Path & Meeting House Lane,
Mountainside (908) 2329490
Reverend Christopher R. Belden
CONGREGATION ARI YEHUDA 1251 Terrill Road, Scotch Plains
(Rear entrance of Assembly of God Church) (Rear entrance of Assembly of God Church) (Rear entrance of Assembly of God Church) (Rear entrance of Assembly of God Church) (Rear entrance of Assembly of God Church)
CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL 1920 Cliffwood Street, Scotch Plains
Rabbi George Nudell
ECHO LAKE CHURCH OF CHRIST 419 Springfield Avenue, Westfield
EVANGEL CHURCH 1251 Terrill Road, Scotch Plains
Reverend Kevin M. Brennan
FANWOOD PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH Martine Avenue & La Grande Avenue,
Fanwood (908) 8898891
Reverend Robert T. Snell
THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH 170 Elm Street, Westfield
Dr. Robert L. Harvey
FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST 257 Midway Avenue, Fanwood
(908) 3228461 FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST
422 East Broad Street, Westfield (908) 2335029
FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH United Church of Christ 125 Elmer Street, Westfield
Dr. Christopher Atwood, Senior Minister Reverend Pamela Gilchrist
FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH 1171 Terrill Road, Scotch Plains
Reverend Sam Chong
FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH 1 East Broad Street, Westfield
Reverend David F. Harwood
GRACE ORTHODOX PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 1100 Boulevard, Westfield (908) 2333938 or (908) 2324403
Reverend Stanford M. Sutton, Jr.
HOLY TRINITY GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH 250 Gallows Hill Road, Westfield
Reverend Dimitrios Antokas
HOLY TRINITY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH Westfield Avenue & First Street, Westfield
Reverend Joseph Masielio
IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY RC CHURCH 1571 South Martine Avenue, Scotch Plains
Reverend John F. Kennedy
METROPOLITAN BAPTIST CHURCH 823 Jerusalem Road
Reverend Clement Griffin
MOUNTAINSIDE CHAPEL 1180 Spruce Drive, Mountainside
Reverend Dr. Gregory Hagg
OUR LADY OF LOURDES RC CHURCH 300 Central Avenue, Mountainside
Reverend Patrick J. Leonard
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN WESTFIELD 140 Mountain Avenue
Reverend Dr. William Ross Forbes
REDEEMER LUTHERAN CHURCH 229 Cowperthwaite Place, Westfield
Reverend Paul E. Kritsch
ST. BARTHOLOMEW THE APOSTLE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 2032 Westfield Avenue, Scotch Plains
Reverend Michael A. Merlucci
ST. HELEN’S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 1600 Rahway Avenue, Westfield
Reverend Monsignor James A. Burke
ST. JOHN’S BAPTIST CHURCH 2387 Morse Avenue, Scotch Plains
Reverend Kelmo C. Porter, Jr.
ST. LUKE’S AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ZION CHURCH 500 Downer Street, Westfield
Reverend Leon E. Randall
ST. PAUL’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH 414 East Broad Street, Westfield
Reverend Richard W. Reid
SCOTCH PLAINS BAPTIST CHURCH 333 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains
Reverend Gary Rothwell
TEMPLE BETH O’R/ BETH TORAH 111 Valley Road, Clark
Rabbi Shawn B. Zell
TEMPLE EMANUEL 756 East Broad Street, Westfield
Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff
TEMPLE SHOLOM 815 W. Seventh Street, Plainfield
Rabbi Joel N. Abraham
TERRILL ROAD BAPTIST CHURCH 1340 Terrill Road, Scotch Plains
Michael C. Seaman
TERRILL ROAD BIBLE CHAPEL 535 Terrill Road, Fanwood
(908) 3224055 WILLOW GROVE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
1961 Raritan Road, Scotch Plains (908) 2325678
Reverend Kenneth G. Hetzel
WOODSIDE CHAPEL 5 Morse Avenue, Fanwood
Talk on Edith Stein Planned At Holy Trinity on Dec. 14
WESTFIELD – The Westfield chapter of the Knights of Columbus is sponsoring a talk by Dianne Traflet, an Assistant Dean at the Immaculate Conception Seminary, who will speak on “Edith Stein and the Mystery of Christmas,” on Tuesday, December 14, at 7: 30 p. m. at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Westfield.
On October 11, 1998, Edith Stein was officially canonized as Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
Born to a Jewish family, Stein converted to the Catholic faith after reading the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila at the age of 31.
Though she enjoyed prominence in the academic circles of Germany she longed to practice spiritual contemplation and solitude. In 1935 she
entered a cloistered convent of Carmelite Nuns.
She would flee for Holland as the Nazi persecution of Jews intensified, yet her martyrdom would soon approach. To retaliate against the Catholic bishops for their pastoral letter against the “Final Solution,” the Nazi’s arrested all Catholics of “nonAryan” extraction.
Transported by cattle car to Auschwitz, Edith Stein would die in the gas chambers, but not before giving a profound witness of faith to both her fellow inmates and persecutors.
During her canonization, Pope John Paul II hailed her deep spiritual writings and saintly life as treasures to be forever cherished by all people of good will.
Dr. Traflet’s own background helped her to bring to life the story of the saint she has researched. Dr. Traflet received her Doctorate of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, Italy. She holds a Master of Arts in Catholic Theology from St. John’s and prior to her professorship, practiced law after graduating from Seton Hall’s School of Law.
Dr. Traflet has become a popular retreatleader in the New York metropolitan area.
Admission to the program is free.
St. Bart’s to Hold Anointing of the Sick Saturday, December 11
SCOTCH PLAINS – Father Michael A. Merlucci, Pastor of St. Bartholomew the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Scotch Plains, invites all to a celebration of the Anointing of the Sick on Saturday, December 11, at 1: 30 p. m. Refreshments will be served following the service.
Former Detective David Toma To Speak at St. Helen’s Church
WESTFIELD – Former Newark police detective David Toma, a nationally recognized authority on drug and alcohol abuse, will speak at St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church, 1600 Rahway Avenue in Westfield, on Tuesday, December 7, at 7: 30 p. m.
Mr. Toma, whose visit will be sponsored by the St. Helen’s Youth Ministry, will speak on suicide, Satanic worship and eating disorders. The program is designed for teenagers, parents, teachers and school administrators.
Over the past 40 years, Mr. Toma has helped troubled youth change their behavior by learning about their strengths and their potential. In addition to his law enforcement career, he is a former United States Marine Drill Instructor, a onetime professional baseball player and an ex boxer.
Mr. Toma, known for his straight talk, frankness and honesty, also was the inspiration for two popular television series, “Toma” and “Baretta.”
St. Helen’s Church is located at 1600 Rahway Avenue. For further information on the program, please call (908) 2338444.
St. Bart’s Altar Society Holds Party, Boutique
SCOTCH PLAINS – St. Bartholomew’s Rosary Altar Society will hold its annual Christmas Party and Christmas Boutique on Monday, December 6, following the 7: 30 p. m. Mass.
All women of the parish are invited. Refreshments, raffles, prizes and entertainment will be provided.
Torah Center Sponsors Dec. 9 Hanukkah Party
WESTFIELD – The Union County Torah Center will host a Family Hanukkah Party at the Clinton Manor, 2735 Route 22 West in Union, on Thursday, December 9, from 6 to 8 p. m.
There will be a children’s program featuring “Judah the Maccabi and his Musical Hanukkah Show”, buffet dinner, Hanukkah gelt and dreidles.
The suggested donation is $10 per adult and $5 per child. Reservations
are preferred, but not required. Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, begins on Friday, December 3, at sundown and continues through Saturday December 11.
Hanukkah focuses largely on the meaning of civil liberties and religious freedom.
For more information and to receive a free Hanukkah guide, please call (908) 7895252.
Hanukkah Show to Be Broadcast on Channel 57
WESTFIELD – The Union County Torah Center and Tzivos Hashem are sponsoring “Professor Pellah’s Place,” a Hanukkah adventure to be aired on Tuesday, December 7, and Wednesday, December 8, at 6: 30 p. m. on Comcast Cable Channel 57.
The halfhour TV program will appeal to all Jewish children and to nonJews interested in Jewish culture. The drama provides a setting for children to be introduced to a wide range of Jewish customs and ideals.
The story is about four teenage cousins, Danny, Rena, Zak and Sara who are challenged by a mystical professor Pellah and his pet fish Bernie to create a campaign to promote awareness for the holiday of Hanukkah. The kids dream up all sorts of elaborate promotion ideas from Sara creating her own network talk show to Zak’s MTV music video.
During the action, cut away segments will introduce viewers to the arts of candle making and oil pressing, to public menorah lightings in cities such as Moscow, London,
Jerusalem, New York and Paris, and an animated history of Hanukkah as seen by a young boy in ancient times.
For more information, please call the Torah Center at (908) 7895252.
SCOUTING EXPEDITION… Westfield Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, Webelos and Boy Scouts recently joined in the 12th annual “Scouting for Food” drive. The scouts subsequently brought hundreds of bags of food to the Westfield Food Pantry at the Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Westfield, just in time for Thanksgiving.
Christine Hoyer is Named Elizabethtown College Scholar CONGRATULATING A SCHOLAR – Elizabethtown College Provost Ronald
J. McAllister congratulates Christine Hoyer of Fanwood during the ceremony in which she was named Elizabethtown Scholar for 19992000. She was named during a convocation at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pa.
FANWOOD – Christine Hoyer of Fanwood has been named a College Scholar for 199900 at Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Pa. in recognition of high academic achievement.
She was one of 46 College Scholars were publicly recognized by Provost Ronald J. McAllister at the opening convocation, which marked the beginning of Elizabethtown’s 100th year.
Christine is a junior who is completing a double major in psychology and philosophy. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert D. Hoyer of Fanwood.
She is a 1997 graduate of ScotchPlains Fanwood High School. Christine is a Dean’s List student and a member of the Psychology Club, and Activities Planning Board at Elizabethtown.
Patient Care, Inc. Observes National Home Care Month
WESTFIELD – Patient Care, Inc. of Westfield recently joined home care providers nationwide in celebration of National Home Care Month, which is observed in November.
The annual event recognizes the efforts of nurses, home health aides, social workers and therapists who provide highquality health care and supportive services to patients in their homes.
Individuals facing the challenges of aging, illness or disability receive care tailored to their specific needs. Services include assistance with daily living activities such as bathing, grooming and meal preparation, as well as nursing visits. The patient and his or her family also receive ongoing education and access to supportive services and resources.
Additional services provided by Patient Care to enhance a patient’s quality of life include companions to
provide socialization and geriatric care management services. These services assist patients with everything from insurance claims management to home safety evaluations.
The newlyestablished Patient Care Web site, www. patientcare. com, provides answers to common questions and concerns that families may have when considering home care.
Patient Care offers hourly/ livein certified home health aides, companion services and nurse visits, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The company has branch office locations in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio.
Patient Care is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). The Westfield branch office is located at 120 Elm Street. For more information, please call (908) 6545656.
Woodside Chapel Holds Bible Hour, Evening Services
FANWOOD – Woodside Chapel, located at 5 Morse Avenue in Fanwood at Westfield Road near Midway and North Avenues, is inviting the community to attend its Family Bible Hour and Sunday School which held are at 11 a. m. along with its evening service at 6 p. m. on Sundays.
Speakers for the month of December include Sunday, December 5, Dave Naysmith at 11 a. m. and 6 p. m.; Sunday, December 12, Dave
Naysmith at 11 a. m.; Sunday, December 19, Dan Mearns will speak after the Senior Choir Cantata at 11 a. m.; Friday, December 24, Christmas Eve service at 7: 30 p. m. and Sunday, December 26, Dave Brooks at 11 a. m.
A nursery is provided during both the 11 a. m. and 6 p. m. classes.
For further information, please call Gene Graber at (908) 8895462 or Dave Brooks at (908) 7890796.
Court Trinity Women’s Annual Holiday Luncheon
To Be Held December 8
SCOTCH PLAINS – Court Trinity of the Catholic Daughters of America will hold its annual Christmas luncheon on Wednesday December 8, at 1: 30 p. m. at Snuffy’s Pantagis Renaissance Restaurant in Scotch Plains.
In lieu of a gift exchange, the members will give donations to Raphael House, located at the former convent of St. Patrick’s Church in Elizabeth, which assists unmarried mothers.
Court Trinity’s next meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 12, at the Holy Trinity Rectory in Westfield. Support of the Holy Trinity Food Pantry will continue through the holiday season.
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)