John 10:22-23 “It was winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of the Dedication Celebration. He was at the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Hall.”
Hundreds of Christians and Jews joined together in worshipping the one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel at a Hanukah, or Feast of Rededication, service in Paarl last Sunday.
The feast which is mentioned in the scripture above was celebrated at the Paarl Synagogue. The combined Christian-Jewish gathering follows the Woven Destinies concert in Cape Town in the magnificent Gardens Synagogue in October during the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Paarl shul was appropriately chosen as this is the “Light of Israel Synagogue” and the feast is also called the Festival of Lights, (with much significance for Believers in Yeshua, the Light of the World.) Whilst not among God’s instructed Feasts for observation, it was nevertheless quite likely observed by Jesus.
The distances to Paarl did not deter, and scores of people travelled out from Cape Town and surrounding areas to remind the people of the heydays when the shul was full and the population of Jewish people in the area was far greater than today.
This festival celebrates the rededication of the Temple on Temple Mount about 160 years before the birth of Jesus. It was desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes during the “400 silent years” between the Older Testament and the Newer Covenant. The memorial feast was instituted by Judah Maccabee and his followers who fought and freed the land from the ruling Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks). Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove them from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of God.
This event was foretold by Daniel the prophet, and Jesus mentions the desecration of the altar and Temple in the Mount Olivet prophecy. Therefore, this historical period has great significance for Christians.
The story goes that they found only one cruse of purified oil for one lamp for one night, and the feast celebrates the miracle of the light continuing to burn in the sacred Menorah for the eight days it took to ritually purify more oil.
Organised by Christians Liz and Jamie Campbell with Erez Shaked, an Orthodox Jew, of Woven Destinies and Bnoth Zion WIZO in Cape Town, Sunday’s service featured the commanding voice of cantor Barry Braun and others, and was a deeply spiritual experience.
Shaked noted that the Hebrew word for miracle is ‘nes’ and it is truly a miracle that Christians and Jewish people are meeting in together’nes’, each respecting each other’s beliefs.
It concluded with many of the congregation joyously dancing the hora which lasted until after midnight.
(Hanukah customs include eating foods fried in oil – latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (doughnuts); playing with the dreidel (a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, hei and shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, “a great miracle happened there”); and the giving of Chanukah gelt, gifts of money, to children.)