This holiday season residents of our community will find Hanukkah Menorahs in Prescott and Prescott Valley. The first Hanukkah Menorah was publically displayed in November of 2011 with the unveiling of an outdoor Menorah at the 12th Annual Valley of Lights in Prescott Valley. Jointly sponsored by Temple B’rith Shalom and the Jewish Foundation this outdoor Menorah stands thirteen feet tall, is ten feet wide, and displays nine candles that are each five feet tall. This holiday season will mark the outdoor Menorah’s fifth appearance in the Valley of Lights festival. The Valley of Lights opens on Thanksgiving evening.
Since 2012, Hanukkah Menorahs have also adorned the East and West Campuses of Yavapai Regional Medical Center. You will find the east campus Menorah in the main hospital lobby and the west campus Menorah in the first floor cafeteria. With each Menorah is signage that explains this eight-day Jewish holiday that is also known as the Festival of Lights.
Hanukkah is the 2000 year-old story of the miracle of the sacred oil that occurred in ancient Israel. The story began when a Jewish priest and his five sons rebelled against the Syrian tyrant, Antiochus IV, who had outlawed the Jewish religion and defiled the Temple in Jerusalem. Although vastly outnumbered by Antiochus’ soldiers, the tiny army of Jewish rebels, called the Maccabees, defeated the Syrians and regained control of Jerusalem and the Temple.
Once the Temple had been cleansed and the new altar readied for services, the Maccabees discovered that only one vial of sacred olive oil had survived the defilement by the Syrians. Although the vial contained only enough oil to light the altar Menorah for one day, the sacred oil miraculously burned for eight days – enough time to prepare a fresh supply of olive oil for the Temple.
An eight-day festival was declared by the Jewish leaders to commemorate this ‘miracle of the oil’. Each year at Hanukkah, Jews celebrate by lighting the candles on a unique nine-branched Menorah – lighting one candle on each night of the holiday, progressing until all eight are lit on the final night. The ninth, or raised candle, is called the shamash and is used to light the other candles.