Chanukah 2003 - When Holidays Meet

This year Chanukah and Xmas are celebrated at the same time.  Chanukah begins Friday night, December 19th and Xmas on December 25th.  With the conversions of the two religious holidays, celebrated by millions, there must be a message for us.  I believe it is bringing the light of spirituality and freedom into the world.  It really doesn’t matter what religion you are as long as you get the message.

The holiday of Chanukah 165 B.C.E. commemorates the rededication of the Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem following the Jews’ victory over the ancient Syrian and Greek Empires, who sought to coerce them into replacing their faith with Hellenism.  The story is celebrated by lighting the Menorah candles for eight days, reminding us of the ancient victory reconfirming faith and hope.  This holiday proclaims a universal message of religious freedom for all people. 

Let me share the following story:

The famous Pantages Theater in Hollywood, California has housed Vaudeville, motion pictures.  At the present time it is used as a theater for musicals and plays.  There meet many actors and performers from different walks of life and religious persuasions.  All of them have a common goal in entertaining the public.  Entertainment binds people together and makes them feel good. 

My friend, an audio engineer responsible for the master sound at the Pantages Theater, had a peculiar dilemma last Chanukah.  The holiday was coming and where would he be able to light his Chanukah candles?  He had his little menorah and candles ready but no place to light them.

Before the show, a half-hour before the call, the following took place in one of the dressing rooms.  My friend gathered together with a lead actor of Lion King and actors and actresses, some Jewish, others in their animal costumes and recited the blessings and lit the candles on a Menorah. 

Imagine, a mixed cast of Lion King actors singing Chanukah songs commemorating the joyous holiday event of freedom.  Every night they took turns reading out of a pamphlet the story of Chanukah, the holiday spirit pulling all walks of life together into a wonderful holiday spirit of harmony.  It’s remarkable that in a theatrical setting the cast and co-workers found the message of light and holiness.  By lighting the Menorah they brought light into world.  What a joyful sight indeed.

With this holiday season celebrated by both religions we hope that citizens of the world will be attracted to the light of democracy.  During the holiday think of our men and women fighting overseas bringing freedom and light to the world.  Let’s hope they come home soon to their families.

Best wishes for a bright and happy holiday.