Chanuka began on the 25th of the month of Kislev or the 2nd of December this year. It will last for eight days, until the 10th of December. This time, the ceremony of lighting the festival’s first candle at Grzybowski Square in Warsaw was organised jointly by all the Jewish organisations active in the city.
Chanuka in Hebrew means “dedication.” The festival commemorates the history described in the Books of the Maccabees and relates to a war of liberation and independence. In 164 b.c.e., insurgents led by Judah Maccabee defeated the army of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire and purified the temple in Jerusalem removing pagan deities from it. A miraculous event occurred then. One-day’s supply of oil required for lighting of the holy temple lasted for eight days. This sustained light was taken a sign of the divine presence in the temple. To commemorate the event, Jews light candles for eight consecutive days; they recite blessings over them and sing traditional Chanuka hymns, among them Maoz Tzur.
The story of Chanuka speaks about the importance of standing up for one’s identity in spite of situations of intractable adversity.
The roster of organisers included: AJC Central Europe, Embassy of Israel in Poland, Beit Centrum Ki Tov, Beit Warszawa, JCC Warszawa – Warsaw Jewish Community Centre, Chabad Lubawicz Poland, Clil Choir, Taube Center for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Poland, The Prof. Moses Schorr Foundation, JDC Poland Foundation, Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, Pushke Foundation, Shalom Foundation, Jewish Community of Warsaw, Hashomer Hatzair, Hillel Warsaw, B’nai B’rith Polin Fraternal Lodge, Warsaw Ghetto Museum, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Drejdel Day Care Centre, Sochnut, Second Generation – Association of Holocaust Survivor Descendants, Association of “Children of the Holocaust,” Midrasz Association, Association of Jewish Veterans and Victims of in the Second World War, Jewish Historical Institute Association, Ester Rachel Kamińska and Ida Kamińska State Jewish Theatre, Jewish Social-Cultural Association in Poland, Lauder-Morasha School Complex, Snunit Dance Ensemble, Jewish Historical Institute, Maccabi Jewish Sports and Gymnastics Associations Warsaw.