She pulls her scarf tighter as the cool winter breeze skimmers across her neck. Sauntering around the neighborhood filled with song, she is trying to stay on tune while spreading Christmas cheer from doorstep to doorstep. On approach to one of the last houses however, she becomes puzzled. Rather than a Christmas tree, a strange eight-pronged candle stood in this window. For a Jewish family, this is the sight their gaze falls upon for the month of December.
The Jewish religion, although sharing some similar qualities as Christianity, is in fact quite different. For example, the Jewish religion does not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, but still believes him to be an extremely influential figure during his time. Also, Judaism does not believe in the devil as being a legitimate figure, but rather the “devil” is a representation of the evil inside of everyone, that “little voice in your head” that tells you to do wrong.
Every year, when December rolls around, each Jewish family sets out their eight-pronged candle, or Menorah. The practice of Hanukkah comes from the story of Judah. Judah led the Macabees in a rebellion against the Romans. While hiding out, the people had only one candle, which should have lasted for just one night. Instead, the candle remained lit for eight nights, allowing Judah and the people who rebelled with him to be saved. This is where the eight prongs on the Menorah as well as the eight days of celebration come from.
When taking a random poll, over 80 percent of people would say Hanukkah is the most important Jewish holiday. This is in fact far from the truth. In fact, Hanukkah is the only Jewish holiday NOT mentioned in the Torah, the Jewish bible, because it occurred after the Torah was published.
The three most popular holidays are Passover, Yomikippur and Rosh-Hashanah. Passover is a time of remembrance when the Jewish people were enslaved in Egypt. Yomikippur is the day of atonement, when the people ask forgiveness for their sins and wrong doings. Rosh-Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It does not follow the regularly occurring calendar that we follow, but rather, the Jewish calendar begins the day Adam and Eve appeared. To the Jewish people, a new year is a fresh start and a new beginning.
Cartersville High School freshman Jake Sonenshine has practiced Judaism since birth.
“For me, it’s just what I’ve always been taught to believe in. It’s my way of life. It’s really no different that the way someone practices any other religion,” said Sonenshine.
Many times, the lack of knowledge and historical facts of this religion leads people to be skeptical as well as judgmental of Judaism. I myself practice Christianity, but having spent time in the Sonenshine home, I hold a new level of respect for all who practice Judaism.
So for now, shalom!!