Hanukkah event to show cultural common points

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

When Rhon Abraham lights the first menorah candle for Hanukkah this year, she'll be observing a centuries-old tradition.

But she'll also be sharing her tradition with people unfamiliar with the Jewish holiday.

To mark the beginning of the Festival of Lights, an interfaith Hanukkah event is planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the fellowship hall at Christ Episcopal Church, 101 N. Fountain St. Activities include dreidel games, refreshments and a question and answer session.

Hanukkah and Christmas "show the commonalities of God's miracle," Abraham said.

Hannukah is a Jewish winter holiday that marks the dedication of a new altar at the temple in Jerusalem. The festival later became linked to a miraculous jar of oil that burned for eight days.

Christmas is a Christian holiday that observes the birth of Jesus Christ.

"Both are God's gift," she said.

Abraham said the idea is to emphasize the common points of the Jewish and Christian cultures. For example, much of the food is similar to what German settlers who came to Southeast Missouri prepared.

Abraham said the latkes, or potato pancakes, will be the central feature of the refreshments. "It wouldn't be Jewish if there wasn't food," she said.

Representatives from the Southern Illinois Jewish Federation, which covers parts of Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky, will attend the event. Additional menorahs and Hanukkah candles will be available for purchase.

Abraham wants to show how Hanukkah is a fun holiday and hopes that by inviting the community to the celebration, it can build understanding.

Members of Christ Episcopal Church opened up their building, Abraham said.

"They wanted to learn how other people are celebrating these winter holidays," she said.

Being Jewish in a small community means making the effort to pursue your faith, Abraham said. The Hanukkah celebration is her way of doing so, she added. The nearest Jewish temples are in Carbondale, Ill., and Paducah, Ky.

To make reservations for the celebration, contact Abraham at 335-6364 and leave a message with the number of people attending and contact information or you can reach her by e-mail at hawkwoman11@yahoo.com. Donations are suggested to cover the cost of food.

ljohnston@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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