Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is …
Chanuka snuck up on us this year for sure, but what better time to celebrate miracles and Light then during trouble and darkness! Since we follow the Hebrew calendar here, which is a lunar calendar, the dates of the holidays fluctuate when compared to Western calendars. This year it is very early and will not coincide with the celebration of the birth of Yeshua, but with the American holiday of Thanksgiving, a rare occurrence.
The approach of Chanuka here is signaled in a number of ways. Some of our street lights are strung with blue lights and the 8 branched chanukiah or Chanuka menorah. The Lamp stood in the temple and was designed by God Himself, (and is now the true symbol of Israel AND of The Holy Spirit) is called the menorah and has 7 branches.
The one in the center raised above the others with three on either side. The chanukiah or Chanuka menorah (the word menorah in Hebrew means lamp) often looks like the temple Menorah but has NINE branches, 4 to the left and 4 to the right of the raised center one which is called the shamas or the servant light. This one is used to light the others with one added each night. For example on Wed. night we will light the shamas and with him we will light the first candle all the way on the right. Thurs night will be the shamas and TWO candles all the way to the right and so on. Every house has at least one Chanukiah, they are in shop windows and huge ones are on street corners and in public areas. And of course there are appropriate songs.
Although the Chanukiah is the main symbol of Chanuka there are other signs as well…foods. Even before the lights went up around town, the soufganiot – a form of diet-destroying doughnut – appeared in all of the shops. The traditional soufganiot is a deep fried soft fluffy doughnut filled with jam and topped with powdered sugar, but over the past few years the traditional gut buster has made way for an elaborate assortment of flavors and designs. It seems that once the tradition is broken, the sky is the limit.
Deep fried potato pancakes called latkes, often topped with apple sauce, are also a traditional food. The symbolism here is all in the oil because the miracle of Chanuka is found in the multiplication of the oil for the burning of the temple lamp – one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days until clean oil could be properly prepared. So, we eat tons of oil.
Foil covered chocolate coins (called Chanuka gelt) have replaced the giving of coins as gifts to the children, and the ancient game of dreidel is still played by the spinning of a specially designed top inscribed with Hebrew letters נ -ג -ה –פ nun, gimil, hey, pay – to represent the words nes – miracle, gadol – big, hiyah – happened, poh-here or a great miracle happened here. And of course, that is what Chanuka is all about.
The modern celebration of Chanuka is a half-holiday and is considered a children’s and family holiday. Small gifts are given to the children (who are on holiday from school) and there are plays and fun activities, museums and events taking place daily all around the country. People still work as it is not a Biblically commanded holiday, but there is a festive air everywhere.
We know that Yeshua observed Chanuka, as was recorded in John 10:22,23 – the time when THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD walked in the temple, still unrecognized, among the lamps representing the miracle of the multiplication of Light. isn’t He wonderful?
Since this is the second Chanuka for us without our children and Grandchildren, it is important for me to help my husband battle the depression which settles over him from time to time. This is an intense time of year for his battles. As I look to The Lord for ways to surprise him with joy, American Thanksgiving presented an opportunity to gather friends from America around our table. That is rapidly developing into a day I pray will be filled with His Light and Thanksgiving and encourage my husband in particular.
When we first arrived more then 19 years ago, to buy a whole turkey was UNHEARD of. I have written at length about that often in the past: how groups of people would gather around my shopping basket in wonder, full of questions and OF COURSE comments and opinions, like, “NO one could eat all of THAT and who in the world has such a BIG OVEN to cook it in? You are C-R-A-Z-Y!”
It HAS been funny! But now, there has been an increasing aliyah from N. America over the past 5 years or so and the butchers have become educated to the art of having whole turkeys occasionally. It is funny how PROUD they look to share their newfound knowledge. “Ahhhh! Yes! A whole TURKEY! AMERICAN!”
The last time that I wrote, I surprised myself by writing about beggars, and so I have an addendum. On Sunday I was approached by a young religious woman in her 30s. I could see right away she was for real. She asked if I could spare any money for food. I told her that I would and listened to what The Lord urged which was a fairly large sum. I asked her what the problem was and she said with very sad eyes there was no money but that was the least of their problems. As I gave her the money I knew I had to add, “I will pray for you but you must know one thing. I give this gift and prayer in The Name of Yeshua.”
I do NOT usually say this. She stepped back and threw the money at me and said, “I will have NOTHING in The Name of Yeshua!” She ran off. It saddened my heart she was so against His Name that she would not receive either the help nor the comfort He so freely gives, but I was the same way. So I ask for prayer for this nameless young woman in need – He indeed knows her name and her heart and can meet her where she is as He can meet all of our loved ones for whom we ache and pray.
Ok. I must go, but I do not write these things ignorant or ambivalent concerning the intense world events swirling around us. Persia, Syria, Egypt, ancient names are raising their heads and are being granted last days power and being placed in strategic places. I watch with The Word open. I remember the vivid dream I had in 1988 concerning Persia that I am more certain daily was from The Lord as it all unfolds and we are called to watch and pray. May we be found FAITHFUL and NOT trying to sort it all out in our own minds with our own reason. Not my might, not by power and not by humanism, but BY HIS SPIRIT ALONE may we walk before Him in the only Peace available on earth these days…as living and multiplied, thankful LIGHT.
I need to tell you…I love you brothers and sisters. (yes, I’m mushy)
Last addition: (thank you for asking, caring, praying, loving) Our younger daughter lives in a small apartment close to our older daughter in the bay area of California near San Francisco. Their Baby Girl is due January 8 and her health is holding it’s own. Thank You Lord! It does not look as if we will be there.
Several have asked if we are considering moving back. Although our hearts would, there is no doubt that He moved us here. That isn’t an option. Our older daughter, a doula (birth assistant) plans to help at the birth. Our Grandchildren appear to be doing better. Where as our landlady WAS showing our apartment at least 10 times a week, there has been no one to see it for the past 3 weeks. We feel that she is likely asking way too much for an apartment in this poor condition: answered prayer. Although this DOESN’T mean: Yay! We get to stay,” my husband decided we will stop looking for another apartment until we get the 3 months notice. The future is unsure to us but sure to Him.
I am at peace today,
Your sister J
If you are interested on learning more about Chanuka (or Hanukkah), click here.