FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – On Monday night, the Chabad of Northwest Arkansas joined with the community to light a menorah.
Rabbi Mendel Greisman said for the eight days of Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, many Jewish people eat food fried in oil, light menorahs at their homes or display them on their cars, and give their kids money. He says traditionally, the kids can spend most of the money however they want but will give 10% to charity.
In America, Rabbi Greisman said many people have started to give gifts instead of money since that is a common thing to do this time of year.
When Rabbi Greisman and his family were asked what these Jewish traditions represent, his son said “Hanukkah is the day where the Jews won over the Greeks a long time ago and they found the oil that was only enough for one day, and it lasted eight days. That is why we light the menorah and eat food cooked in oil.”
Rabbi Greisman said Jewish people light the menorah eight nights to remember the miracle that happened back in those days.
Rabbi Greisman also said along with celebrating the triumph of freedom over oppression, Hanukkah is a special time for families to spend together.
According to Rabbi Greisman, every seven years, the Jewish community would gather in the holy temple in Jerusalem, but now, since there are Jewish people spread across the world, local communities make more effort to get together. He said the tradition falls on this year’s Hanukkah.
When asked about the recent anti-Jewish voices and actions, he referred to the story of Hanukkah and the light or goodness it represents.
“If you are a candle and you touch someone, they’ll be on fire. Then touch another person, and we all have to let our goodness and our kindness shine forth. It’ll overpower and eliminate the darkness that’s out there. People are very quick to hide when there’s a negative voice or when there’s a scary voice, that gives them the victory,” said Rabbi Greisman.
Rabbi Greisman encourages people to spread the message of Hanukkah by lighting their menorah where others can see it. He said the meaning is universal, so even if you aren’t Jewish, he said you can celebrate by spreading light and love this time of year.
Rabbi Greisman said he has not experienced antisemitism personally and says law enforcement has done a lot of work to make the Jewish community feel safe in our area.
Hanukkah celebrations will end on Monday, Dec. 26.