Facets of Faith for Dec. 8, 2012

When Jews begin lighting menorahs Saturday night, The Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel will join them.

This traditional observance of Hanukkah involves a candelabrum with eight branches in a line and a separate branch holding a “helper” candle known as the Shamash.

On the first evening of Hanukkah, one of the candles is lit. On each of the eight nights, an additional candle is lit.

The holiday celebrates the Maccabees’ victory over the Syrians in the second century B.C., after which the vandalized Temple was cleaned. Tradition holds that though there was only enough oil to relight the Temple lamp stand for one day, the oil miraculously lasted eight days.

The word “Hanukkah” means dedication.

Each night of Hanukkah, a member of the Jewish community will light a flame on the hotel’s menorah inside the 123 Baronne St. entrance in downtown New Orleans. After the Dec. 15 lighting, the menorah will be fully lighted until the end of the Festival of Lights at sundown Dec. 16.

Starting at 3 p.m. daily, the hotel restaurant will offer a Hanukkah menu. For information, visit http:// www.therooseveltneworleans.com.

Temple or Hanukkah?

  • The Temple menorah has seven branches. Its design is based on Scripture: In Exodus 25:31-38, detailed instructions were given to the Israelites on how to build the Tabernacle lamp stand. Some people say its seven branches represent the seven days of creation and thus a representation of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.
  • The Hanukkah menorah has eight branches in a line, so that one can easily determine how many lights are lit. A ninth branch, set higher, lower or to the side of the others, holds the Shamash. The eight branches mark each day of celebration.
  • Olive oil was used in the Temple menorah and can be used in the Hanukkah menorah.
  • The original Temple menorah was gold, but any appropriate material can be used for Hanukkah. Branches can be curved or straight.
  • Modern menorahs vary widely in style and material. Some use candles or oil. Some are electric. Metal, glass, wood or plastic can be used. Styles can be traditional, sleek or even made from Pez dispensers.
  • All lights on the Temple menorah were lit each time it was lit. The Hanukkah menorah is lit according to day — one light the first day, two the second, etc.
  • Both the Temple and Hanukkah versions can be called lamp stands or menorahs. “Menorah” is a Hebrew word meaning lamp stand.

Sources: press release, The
HarperCollins Dictionary of World Religion, The Perennial Dictionary of World Religions, The Jewish Holidays by Michael Strassfeld

Send ideas and comments to Leila Pitchford-English, The Advocate, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0588 or by email to
lenglish@theadvocate.com.