Jewish families throughout Costa Rica and the world are preparing to celebrate Hanukkah, sometimes referred to as the Festival of Lights, which starts on the 25th day of the month of Kislev in the lunar Jewish calendar and lasts eight days. Most years, it falls solidly in December in the secular calendar, but Hanukkah’s week-plus occasionally begins in late November and, in rare years, can spill over into early January. This year, it will begin at sunset on Sunday, Dec. 6.
The holiday commemorates the victory by the Jewish Maccabean army over Greek occupiers in 165 B.C. and the subsequent rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem following its desecration by the invaders. Just a scant amount of clean oil was available to light the temple candelabrum for rededication ceremonies, but it burned for eight days.
This miracle evolved into the holiday’s most recognizable symbol, the eight-candled (or eight-lamped) menorah, patterned after the temple candelabrum and lit each of the eight nights in Jewish homes here in Costa Rica and around the world.
As in previous years, many members of Costa Rica’s Jewish Community will get together at the Israeli Zionist Center of Costa Rica to mark the beginning of Hanukkah and be part of a special celebration. This Sunday’s festivities will include a wide range of activities, especially for children, and are capped off when the community gathers in the synagogue for the lighting of the shamash (the ninth candle in the center of the menorah, used to light the other eight). During last year’s celebration, President Luis Guillermo Solís lit the candle; this year, the honor goes to Foreign Minister Manuel González.
The celebration begins at 4 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the Israeli Zionist Center, located in the western San José neighborhood of Rohrmoser. Any person from the Jewish community interested in attending is welcome, but must follow the security protocol, which consists of confirming notifying the Center of planned attendees’ names and ID numbers before the event. For more information or to confirm attendance, visit the Center’s website, call 2520-1013 or write [email protected].