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December 14, 2009December 14, 2009  0 comments  Nature

Hanukkah celebrates the triumph of light over darkness in nature as well as in history. In the second century BCE, a small but devoted group of Jews, led by the Maccabees, defeated the much larger and more powerful Syrian-Greek army. Jewish tradition was thus kept from disappearing into the sea of the surrounding pagan culture.


In nature, Hanukkah comes at the darkest time of the year. Hanukkah always falls close to December 21, the winter solstice, when daylight hours are at their least. And Hanukkah begins on the 25th of the lunar month of Kislev, when the moon is approaching the end of its waning and its light is dim. It is at this time of the shortest days and the darkest nights that we celebrate the holiday of light, increasing light by adding a new candle in the Hanukkah menorah on each of the eight nights of the holiday. We light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.


In ancient Israel, the source of light was not the wax candles most of us use today, but burning olive oil. Interestingly, the olive harvest and oil-producing season always comes very close to Hanukkah.


At Neot Kedumim, the festival of light is celebrated by picking olives, producing oil in reconstructed ancient presses, making the clay oil lamps that were the "light bulbs" of ancient Israel, and much more. In addition, Neot Kedumim is located in the hilly landscape of the Modi'in region where the story of Hanukkah took place. Walking the paths of Neot Kedumim, we can learn how the Maccabees used their knowledge of the terrain to triumph over the powerful Syrian Greeks.


For information on the Hanukkah program at Neot Kedumim, see www.n-k.org.il, call 08-977-0782, or e-mail tourism@neot-kedumim.org.il. You can reserve a tour for your group (in English) with your own private guide, or walk the open trails and join the activities with no reservations required: 13-17 December, 9:00-15:00, last entrance at 13:30.


A joyful, light-filled Hanukkah and winter season for all!


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