By Sr. Ruth Ksycki, OSB
As I heard some Hanukkah music played on public radio, I decided to look up information about the feast. The word hanuk originally meant inauguration or dedication of the first use of any object. In Deuteronomy 20:5 it refers to a housewarming after the building of a new private home.
The term was later used in reference to the Temple. Its significance today commemorates the victory of Judas Maccabeus who, with a few men, took back the Temple and destroyed the pagan idols that had been set up in it. At the re-dedication of the Temple the lamps were lit. Hence, it is also referred to as the Feast of Lights. The feast lasts for eight days and nights and is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah and the recitation of the Hallel, the Halleluia psalms 113-118. It further celebrates freedom of the practice of religion. I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 116)
During this Advent season may we join with the Jewish people by praying one of the Psalms as we light the lights on our tree and express our gratefulness to God for the freedom of religion we desire and enjoy.