Festival of lights

The Jewish Community of the Algarve will be celebrating Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, with a picnic lunch in Portimão, on Sunday, December 12. The history of Chanukah is recorded in the Deuterocanonical book of the Maccabees. It goes back some 22 centuries to when the Jewish people lived under the rule of Antiochus IV of Syria. Antiochus attempted to Hellenise the Jews and erected idols and statues for them to worship.

In the small village of Modin, near Jerusalem, an old man called Mattisyahu was forced by soldiers to bow to an idol. He refused and had to flee for his life to the mountains. From there, he created a guerrilla army against the oppressors. After his death, he was succeeded by Judah the Maccabee, who defeated the Syrian army, thereby reconquering the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, which had been badly desecrated.

The Temple was cleaned, but, when relighting the Menorah (an eight-armed candelabra), the priests discovered that there was only sufficient oil for one day and knew it would take a week to prepare more. However, the oil lasted for eight days and it is this miracle and the spiritual survival of Judaism that is commemorated and celebrated.

Members of the community will be lighting their Menorahs at the lunch. For further information, call Ralf Pinto on 282 416 710 or email: [email protected]