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Monday, 10 December 2007

The Ceremony of lighting Chanukah Candles in the Presidential Palace

On 10 December 2007, on the occasion of the Jewish Chanukah Festival, President of the Republic of Poland Mr Lech Kaczyński received in the Presidential Palace representatives of the Jewish minority in Poland.

Next to the Presidential Couple, the ceremony of lighting Chanukah candles was also attended by Warsaw Metropolitan Rev. Kazimierz Nycz, Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, Undersecretary of State in the Chancellery of the President of RP Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, Chaplain to the President Rev. Roman Indrzejczyk, President of the Jewish Religious Commune in Warsaw Piotr Kadlčik, representatives of the following organisations: Union of Jewish Religious Communes in Poland, Beit Jewish Cultural Association, Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Shalom Foundation, Jewish Social and Cultural Society in Poland, and a group of Jewish children.

On the occasion of Chanukah, the President of RP extended his best wishes to the entire Jewish Nation: including the Jewish community in Poland, in the State of Israel, in the United States and in Diasporas in many countries of the world. He noted that in the Presidential Palace Chanukah is celebrated for the second time.

Piotr Kadlčik, President of the Jewish Religious Community in Warsaw emphasised that Chanukah is a feast of miracles: the miracle of the Maccabeus’ victory over the Greeks, of liberation of Jerusalem, a miracle of liberation of the Temple. It lasts eight days starting from the 25th day of the Kislev month.

The Chanukah holiday is a commemoration of the cleansing and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem which was desecrated by the Greeks in the 2nd century B.C. and recovered by the Jewish community in the Maccabean Revolt. When the Jewish insurgents captured the Temple, they only found in it one vial of consecrated oil eligible to be burnt in Menorah standing in the Sacred Place as the Torah of Moses required. That volume of olive was only capable of fuelling Menorah fire for one day. Nevertheless, it would take eight days to replenish and consecrate the stock of olive. But God made a miracle and made the olive from one vial burn for eight days until the new oil was pressed.

The most import ant rite of the Holiday is that of kindling the lights: starting from one on the first day, through two – on the second and ending with the eighth day when eight lights are burning (eight olive lamps or contemporarily eight candles). A special candelabrum: Chanukija is used for the purpose. Next to the Chanukija, other sources of light must be provided as well since the candelabrum cannot be used for utility purposes but only as a token of a miracle. In order to spread the word about the miracle, one needs to place a Chanukija in the doorway or in the window.

Chanukah candles were lit in the following sequence: President RP Lech Kaczyński together with Mrs Maria Kaczyńska lit the first candle, followed by Rabbi Michael Schudrich and Rev. Kazimierz Nycz, President Piotr Kadlčik and Rev. Roman Indrzejczyk, Rabbi Tanya Segal and Father Maxymin, a Franciscan Friar of Torun, Ambassador David Peleg and Rabbi Shalom DovBer from Chabat Lubawitch, Gouda Tencer and Artur Hofman, young people and children from Jewish schools.

Rabbi Michael Schudrich pointed out that Chanukah is a joyous Holiday, an occasion to give presents. Children get chocolate coins and together with adults play a game with the use of a wooden spinning top. Taking this opportunity, Rabbi Schudrich presented the Presidential Couple a model of a Great Synagogue of Tłomackie Street, Piotr Kadlčik a copy of Mezuzah from the Lublin Synagogue with the image of the Polish eagle on it, and the children presented graphics with an image of a colourful menorah. 


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