Judaism adheres to the “luni-solar” calendar, following the cycles of sun and moon, and that’s why Hanukkah — Rabbi Rachael Jackson of Agudas Israel in Hendersonville uses the more traditional spelling “Chanukkah” — can happen on significantly different dates from year to year.
Chanukkah is always on the 25th of Kislev — one of the Jewish months — but that might fall as early as Thanksgiving or as late as New Year’s. It certainly makes sure that we are paying attention to both calendars,”Jackson explains to *Bold Life*.
This year, the Jewish winter holiday starts Saturday, December 24 and runs through Sunday, January 1, 2017. At Hands On! children’s museum on Main Street, a week-long workshop, “Dreidels and Hanukkah,” will offer education through craft projects.
Agudas Israel also typically holds a community event during the holiday. However, “due to the proximity of Chanukkah to Christmas this year, we decided to not do a town-wide celebration, so that people could focus on their own festivities,” says Jackson. “For our Agudas Israel family, we are having a Chanukkah-themed Shabbat service with a dinner … we will all bring our menorahs and light them together. It’s quite a sight to see dozens of fully lighted menorahs — it really drives home the ‘Festival of Lights’ concept of [the holiday].”
She points out that all the major world religions have a celebration of faith near the time of the winter solstice: “This happens to be ours. The story of Chanukkah tells us about perseverance and staying true to ourselves. It also shows that when times are darkest, miracles can happen … that when we work together, fighting for the same causes, we can bring back light to our world.
“We are told that we ought to put our menorahs in our windows so that any passerby might be able to enjoy the light. This holiday gives us the chance to also showcase our own internal light.”
For more information about Agudas Israel, see agudasisraelsynagogue.org.
The “Dreidels and Hanukkah” event happens December 27-31 at Hands On! Gallery (318 North Main St.), 10am-5pm, free; 828-697-8333.