The Feast of Dedication

What a beautiful word. Commitment, Latin ‘Dedicare’ the root. Solid and honor combined. There is a feast, it lasts 8 days. It is a Jewish feast of celebration that goes back a few years, around 2400, give or take a few hundred.

This feast celebrates light that came to the nation of Israel in a miraculous way. Light symbolized in the form of a candelabra (Menorah in Hebrew) It seems that there was a particularly nasty king, a bit east of Israel that decided that he would like to possess that land and, with his army, did so. This happens now and then, even now in our world of intrigue and power. This unpleasant leader decided to really show the conquered people of Israel what he thought of them and their faith and religious ways. Conquer and subjugate. Always irritating.

Incidentally, Gator was in that neighborhood when that Kings ancestors tried the same thing. Conquer and humiliate Israel. In the middle sixties it was and a similar outcome occurred. Israel won, hands down. More enemy chariots vs superior firepower directed by the deliverer. Gator was a peripheral sailor and had a few surface missiles pointed at him but it came out ok. We lost one ship and all hands to friendly fire. Usual war snafu. Military people understand that acronym, ask them to translate. It’s true. Every time.

Back now to our story. After a long time, a leader and his people had enough of the nasty king and got rid of him. Combat. It wasn’t the best odds, but it was done. Chariots (early version of tanks) vs unstoppable people of Israel. It was a rout and afterwards, a celebration! The Temple was ‘cleaned up’ and it was time to light off Jerusalem’s sign of their dedication to God and His help. Help sort of falls short describing that reality. The dedication involved lighting of some oil lamps. Big lamps that could be seen all over the city. Bigger than new years in NY by a factor of ten or twenty perhaps. Problem was, there was only enough of the really special oil to burn for one day. There were eight days to be lit in succession. A week and a day. ‘Oh well, light it anyway’. They all stayed lit for the eight days with only one day’s oil. a miracle, a sign of stunning affirmation for sure. The feast went on and since then, in winter, it has continued. The word that describes this feast is Hanukkah (deliverance) and there are special foods involved as well.

Gators family has a very close relative that is Jewish and she introduced this feast to them. Gator’s son Simon made the Menorah to hold the candles. Mrs. Gator made the candles and the special foods were created in the kitchen on their ranch. One of these special foods involves potatoes, onions, spices, eggs and flour with oil in a cast iron frying pan. The food is called Latkes and resembles hash browns taken to a gourmet level. Good with applesauce or sour cream. The Latke recipe is easy. Fry until golden brown in light oil. Very good.

The Gators ate in the living room with some old TV trays (remember those? and the ceremony of lighting the candles, one candle added each day till eight were burning at the end. Beautiful. A Greek desert to round it off and a few Jewish games involving spinning tops and chocolate. Of course, presents every night. It was glorious and one night, playing intensely, the candles had burned down a ‘bit’ and the Menorah started on fire. “Is the wood stove puffing back?’ Oops. Several of the little wood candle holder thingies burned up pretty good. Their son, Stijn made replacements in his forge the next day. Incidentally, the forge is very old and Stijn started using it when he was in his single digit birthdays. A trip of the forged steel to the metal lathe and it was done. The miracle of metal forged by a genius son. All their sons are that way. It’s pleasant and of course, men of genius tend to be irritating at times. Goes with the blessing, it’s ok.

As a whole, Hanukkah occurs very close to Christmas where we celebrate the coming of the deliverer (catch the tie in?) and they blend very well. Of course, Christmas has only one day of gifts so the blending of the miracles is very pleasant and extremely pivotal to all our lives. After all, Jesus was a Jew as well as the begotten Son of God. He is now our light which never goes out. Indecently, it was at the feast of Dedication that Jesus declared himself as Messiah and Son of God. Good timing. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

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