NEWBERRY COUNTY — The holiday known as the Festival of Lights begins on Saturday at sundown.
The Jewish holiday Hanukkah is an eight-day and night holiday lasting through the evening of Dec. 16.
There are not any Jewish synagogues in Newberry and the closest are in Columbia; however, if there is anyone of the Jewish faith, the Newberry Interfaith group is looking to get some Jewish people involved.
The Interfaith Partners of Newberry County is a fairly new group that has started this year and is made of 10 different faiths and is headed by John Halfacre. The Newberry Interfaith group is umbrellaed under the state’s Interfaith group.
A brief history
The Jewish holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple during the Maccabean Revolt during the second century.
The holiday starts on the 25th day of the Kislev, which happens to be this Saturday evening.
The lights come into play with the nine-branched Menorah or Hanukkah. Each candle is lit for each night and the ninth, or center, light is called the shamash and is used to light the other lights.
Families may exchange gifts each night but there is no day, like Christmas, that is taken off for work or school.
Food and other traditions
There is Hanukkah music that are focused on the holiday and then there is the children’s toy, the Dreidel. This is a four-sided spinning toy for children with a Hebrew letter on each side associated with the meaning of oil.
The children spin and play until one has the most money or any sort of item such as candy or coins.
There is also traditional food for Hanukkah.
Typically, there is a custom of eating fried food, either fried or baked in olive oil to remember the miracle of a small flask of oil that kept the flame in the Temple lit for eight days.
There are potato pancakes also known as latkes, jam-filled doughnuts, fritters also known as bimuelos, and Sufganiyot or pastries which are also deep-fried.
There have been and are options to downsize some of the fried food with mini portions.
Since there are no synagogues in Newberry County, the closest area to congregate is in Columbia. There are three synagogues: Beth Shalom and Tree of Life both located on North Trenholm Road and Chabad of S.C. located on Decker Boulevard.
There is also a Jewish Federation of Columbia whose information may be found online at www.jewishcolumbia.org.
Any people of the Jewish faith may also contact John Halfacre with the Interfaith group in Newberry at 924-3490.