Hanukkah, the festival of lights, starts Tuesday around the world.
In Regina, Rabbi Jeremy Parnes from the Beth Jacob Synagogue said around 500 families will celebrate Hanukkah, with some hosting parties through the week.
The eight-day Jewish holiday celebrates the miracle of light that took place more than 2,200 years ago.
Jewish tradition states after the Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks, a small amount of oil that was only supposed to last for one day in the temple burned for eight days.
“The tradition is to celebrate and advertise the miracle, and the way we do that is we look for physical manifestations of the spiritual intent if you will,” Parnes said.
“We light what we call a Menorah, which is a candelabrum that is specifically for the eight-day festival of Hanukkah.”
Parnes went on to say a new candle is lit each day until all eight carry a flame. Most menorahs are displayed in front of a window.
“We say blessings over the lighting of the candle, we sing songs, we have a game that we play using what’s called a dreidel, which is like a spinning top that the kids play with,” Parnes said as he described the Hanukkah celebrations, which include plenty of oil-rich food.
“Latkes (a potato pancake) and Sufganiyot, which are fried donuts,” he said. “The idea is that those things are fried with oil, thinking of the oil that was burned in the temple.”
While each Jewish family celebrates the holiday in their own way, Parnes said there’s a chance on Wednesday for other people in Regina to see what Hanukkah is all about.
“There’s a rabbi in town (who) has constructed an extra-large Menorah, or candelabrum, that will be lit at the legislative building on Wednesday evening for the second night of Hanukkah,” he said.
In previous years, various politicians have attended the event, including the premier. There will be latkes and fried donuts afterwards in the legislative building.
Parnes said it’s a beautiful idea that the tradition at the legislature continues year after year, adding it’s great to show how the diversity in the Queen City.
The rabbi said it doesn’t matter if these events are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Baha’I or Hindu, sharing religious traditions with the wider community is positive.
“To me, Hanukkah is about sharing our faith with others without competing with others, but rather respecting the dignity of our differences and enjoying the benefit of those differences,” Parnes said.
“We all bring something to the table and we can only benefit from those things. This is our contribution at this time of year.”