First night of Hanukkah celebrated with Tree of Life Synagogue victims in mind

First night of Hanukkah
First night of Hanukkah
Published: Dec. 3, 2018 at 9:49 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Rabbi Neal Katz speaks about the meaning of Hanukkah.

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Hanukkah is one of the most historic celebrations of the Jewish community.

Sunday marked the first night of Hanukkah, the holiday is a remembrance of the Jewish uprising against a dictatorship form of government for their freedom of religion. The holiday is also referred to as the Festival of Lights. The celebration symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness and freedom over injustice.

“It’s a military victory that happened about 2,200 years ago," Rabbi Neal Katz with Congregation Beth El in Tyler said. "We call it the Maccabean Revolt, it was a group of people who fought against the Syrian Greeks who were preventing the Jews from being able to worship at their temple.”

A holiday that continues to celebrate the importance of freedom.

“It still resonated 2,200 years later that it was a fight for religious freedom," he said. "Here was a group of people preventing us from worshiping the way that we wanted to worship, and we fought back.”

Katz said it’s also a time of reflection. This year Jews across the world remember the 11 victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh that happened just over a month ago.

“An attempt to prevent us or prevent anybody from celebrating religion the way that they want it’s an affront to us and to our ability to pray and so we take that very seriously," he said. "So, this is a time of celebration but it’s also a time of commemoration and remembrance of the importance of religious freedom.”

Copyright 2018 KLTV. All rights reserved.