Chanukah celebration planned for Dec. 26

On Monday, Dec. 26, the greater Bristol Jewish community is invited to celebrate the festival of Chanukah with music, food and candle lighting. Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation will host the event at the home of Dr. Amy Breakstone and Dr. David Reisner in Bristol beginning at 5 p.m.

This year because the Jewish calendar follows a lunar year, the eight day Chanukah holiday begins on Dec. 24 and ends on Dec. 31, overlapping exactly with Christmas week and Kwanzaa.

Chanukah is a minor Jewish holiday which celebrates a story of the victory of a small band of Jewish soldiers against the Syrian army. When the Jewish victors returned to Jerusalem to light the eternal lamp in the temple, only a one day’s supply of oil was found. The miracle of Chanukah, a story told by Jews around the world was that the oil burned for eight days, enough time to find more oil.

The congregation’s rabbi, Shelley Kovar Becker reminds us that this story and the importance of the oil has led to the tradition of serving foods fried in oil including potato pancakes (latkes) and doughnuts.

Candles are lit each night in a special nine arm candle holder, known as a menorah or hanukkiah. One candle is used to light the other eight. On the eighth night of Chanukah, all the candles are burning.

Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation’s community candle lighting has become a tradition at the Breakstone-Reisner’s house. Their dining room mirrors reflect the lights of dozens of candles as families come together as a community and each lights their own menorah.

Games are played during the evening including “dreidel.” The dreidel is a four-sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side. Together they stand for “A Great Miracle Happened There.” The holiday is celebrated in homes, not in the temple and usually there is food, family and music.

Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation is part of the Reform movement. Services are held in the chapel at the First Congregational Church of Southington.

More information about religious services and community activities can be found at www.gsjc.org or on their Facebook page, search for Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Dr. Amy Breakstone at (860) 585-1818.

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