The Jewish holy days, Hanukkah, began Sunday and the local synagogue, Temple of Beth Emeth in Sherman, will honor the days with a special service at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14.
Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger, who performed the temple’s annual Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, has returned to take part in the celebration marking.
“Rabbi Mecklenburger will lead the blessing over the Chanukka candles as we light the Menorahs,” Temple of Beth Emeth President Andy Faber said in an email interview. “Each child who wishes to light one will be able to light one as the group of kids will get the opportunity to recite the blessings with the rabbi.”
Currently, Mecklenburger serves as the temple’s part-time rabbi.
“In the past, rabbis who lead our congregation were retired from larger congregations around the country, educators who desired a part time pulpit and not a full time commitment, or other professional occupations (we have had counselors, camp directors, etc. in the past 20 years),” Faber said. “Rabbi Mecklenburger retired from the largest Reform Temple in Fort Worth a few years ago and had a bucket list of things to do after retirement. He completed them and he knew we were looking for spiritual leadership. It also helped that he married my wife and I in 1984 when he came to Ft. Worth, so maybe we had an inside track for his services.”
Hanukkah is an eight day celebration. Each day includes the lighting of a candle. The eight days of the holiday mark the eight days that it takes oil to cure.
“Judah the Maccabee and his brothers along with an army of Hebrews defeated the Syrians in the second century BCE,” Faber’s email said. “The temple was rededicated and there was only one day’s oil to light the Eternal Light that burns continuously in every synagogue. It takes 8 days for the new oil to be made. The one day’s amount of oil lasted the 8 days until the new oil was ready to use in the Eternal Light.”
Faber also said that in the Jewish community, it has been a rough few months since the Pittsburgh shooting where a gunman killed 11 and injured seven people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in that city.
While the Temple of Beth Emeth service generally has about 30 participants, Faber said that due to the recent temple shooting in Pittsburgh, this year’s event may see more patrons in support of the community.
“Like any holiday, children are the focal point,” he said. “Getting them involved with songs, lighting the candles, prayers, preparing the foods associated with the holiday are important, just like bringing up any child to learn the practices of each holiday and season.”
While each family may have its own Hanukkah or Chanakka stories and celebrations, there are some things that remain the same each year.
“The lighting of the menorah is a symbol of the holiday,” Faber said in his email. “Since it is the same time as Christmas (no similarity in the holiday’s origins), The Menorah is the symbol of the holiday, much like the Christmas tree is for Christians celebrating Christmas.”