Three local rabbis helped the Flossmoor community celebrate the fourth night of Hanukkah on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
Rabbi Carmit Harari of the Shir Tikvah congregation in Homewood started the event with a brief history of the events commemorated by the holiday.
She said that in 170 BCE, Syrian Greek emperor Antiochus began a harsh rule over the Hebrew people, overthrew the high priest of Jerusalem, defiled the temple and forbade Jews from observing their religious practices.
“Antiochus hated our people because we worshiped God instead of him,” she said.
After three years of struggle, a small Jewish force was able to defeat Antiochus’ army. When the temple in Jerusalem was rededicated, the people celebrated for eight days, a practice which continues today during Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew.
“And so today we keep faith with our ancestors and celebrate with joy the victory of light over darkness, of the weak over the mighty,” Harari said. “It was not by might nor by power but by the spirit of God that our people lived. May we too live by that spirit, keeping the light of Hanukkah aflame in our homes and in our hearts.”
Rabbi Gidon Isaacs of Temple Anshe Sholom in Olympia Fields offered a look at the spiritual side of the holiday.
“Hanukkah is about light in a time of darkness,” he said. “It’s about the idea that hope never goes away, that literally in the darkest time of winter we light these nights, growing and growing each night.”
He said that on the fourth night, worshippers are invited to consider the light of divine compassion.
Following his remarks, Rabbi Emeritus Ellen Dreyfus of Shir Tikvah led the gathering in the singing of Hanukkah songs while she lit the fourth candle.