Menu JTA Search

Hanukkah Celebrations Started; U.S. Jewish Leaders Explain Significance of Holiday

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, which commemorates the first successful struggle for religious freedom in human history and marks the victory of the Maccabess, was ushered in tonight by Jews throughout the country and will be observed for eight days.

A Hanukkah message issued today by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations says: “In our day we have seen the forces of reaction and bigotry try to stamp out the flame of freedom. Again men of goodwill have successfully sprung to arms in defense of their God-given rights and liberties. This Festival of Lights and rededication calls upon all men, regardless of race or color or creed, to unite in creating a world of freedom, understanding and peace.”

Jacob Blaustein, president of the American Jewish Committee, said in a statement: “The Festival of Lights is more than a sectarian Jewish holiday. It is a part of the heritage of all free man serving to recall that, in every age, men of all faiths stand ready to battle and to give their lives to preserve freedom of worship and basic human rights.”

HIAS president Samuel A. Telsoy declared: “The candles which are lit tonight and throughout this holiday, in our age-old tradition, symbolize the light of hope which will continue to shine upon those of our brothers who still bear in Europe the burden of oppression and homelessness. HIAS will continue to explore still further avenues of rescue for Jews in Europe, particularly in the Eastern portion of that continent, who long to be reunited with their scattered kin in other parts of this world.”

An exhibition of ancient Hanukkah ceremonial menorahs, including many lamps from Morocco, Turkey, Russia, Israel and other countries, as well as the personal lamp of the late Baron Maurice de Hirsch (1831-1896), famous English philanthropist and founder of the Jewish Colonization Association, went on display today at the Yeshiva University here.

NEXT STORY