While many people around Texoma will be gearing up to celebrate Christmas, a local religious community will be eating Latkes, spinning dreidels and lighting the candles of the Menorah in celebration of Hanukkah. The Temple of Beth Emeth will be holdings its Hanukkah service at 7:30 p.m. today. A meal will be held at 6 p.m.
“The Menorah has nine candles,” Temple of Beth Emeth President Andy Faber said. “The tallest is the Shamash or the helper or leader candle. Throughout the eight days, we light the Shamash and use it to light the other candles.”
Hanukkah actually starts on Tuesday, however, the Sherman temple has decided to hold its service on the Friday ahead of the holy day.
“Hanukkah is a celebration by the Jews,” Faber said. “They had been conquered by Syrians and their temple had been destroyed. When they got control of their lives again, they light a candle to light the way as they cleaned the temple. The candle was only supposed to last one day, but it lasted eight. That is why Hanukkah is eight days.”
Aside from the candle lighting, those celebrating Hanukkah generally say a prayer and open a gift. The Hanukkah celebration at the Temple of Beth Emeth will be about 10 minutes, Faber said.
“When I was a kid, this holiday was really important to me,” he said. “With kids around, it’s pretty big. My wife and I do not exchange gifts like we did when we were younger. The celebration that we have is just not as formal.”
Different families have different Hanukkah traditions, Faber said.
“When I was a child, my parents would put the eight gifts for the holiday on the dining room table,” he said. “We got to decide which present was opened on each day. My mother had a sense of humor so one present may be one shoe and then the other shoe would be wrapped separately. We did the same kind of thing when my son was young.”
Faber said he likes having his Hanukkah celebration at the temple because he gets to celebrate with others.
“We want to bring up children the same way that we were brought up,” he said. “Children are important. Like in the Jewish religion, we celebrate Passover and during the Passover Seder, children read the four questions. I do not remember a lot about the celebrations that we had when I was a kid, but I remember reading the four questions. It’s important because it shows that even children have a role in the faith.”
While Christmas is not celebrated in the Jewish community, Faber said that Christmas has a special meaning for him and his wife.
“I met my wife at a Jewish singles event held annually on Christmas,” he said. “While a lot of people are celebrating Christmas, Jewish people often do not have anything to do so singles events and other types of get-togethers are generally held that day. I met my wife at one in 1983. Six weeks later we were engaged.”