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Lighting Our Candles Together

By Brad Seligmann, Campus Minister for Interfaith Engagement

There are few things that are truly universal for all religions and cultures, but one practice I find almost everywhere is the act of lighting a candle in the darkness. Earlier in November, as we saw the days shortening, many Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs celebrated Diwali by lighting oil lamps. For each of these religious communities the purpose for the celebration is different, but they were all commemorating victory and liberation in a festival of lights.

While Diwali is a shared holiday with different meanings, today we are blessed with a calendrical coincidence: an uncommon alignment of two calendars so that both Christians and Jews will light a candle today. Throughout this Sunday many Christians will light the first candle of the Advent wreath, entering a season of preparing and hoping as we wait for the birth of Christ. This Sunday evening also marks the first night of Hanukkah, as Jews will light the first candle of the hanukkiah, a special eight-armed menorah. The candles represent the miracle of the flask of oil: In 165 BCE, the Jewish people reclaimed Jerusalem from the Syrian king Antiochus IV. In rededicating the Temple’s eternal flame, there was only enough oil to last for one night - yet the oil lasted eight nights, long enough to prepare more oil for the eternal flame.

Here at UD we will be observing the Hanukkah holiday with our own UD hanukkiah. Please join the UD Jewish community in the KU lobby on Monday at 5 pm. Chag sameach!

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