What may be the world’s only Hanukkah menorah formed by hot air balloons will be illuminated on Sunday, the last night of the eight-day celebration, as part of the 6th annual Hanukkah Night Glow.
The event will be held at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque from 4:30-6:30 p.m. There will be gifts for children, as well as hot latkes (potato pancakes) and beverages. Attendance is free.
As part of the festivities, there will be musical performances by Aryeh Hurwitz, a well-known soloist and visiting cantor from the Chai Center in Long Island, New York, and by Los Klezmerados de Santa Fe, a klezmer and Hasidic dance music band.
Hanukkah has its roots in a second century BCE uprising by Jews against their Syrian-Greek oppressors in Judea, Israel, explained Rabbi Chaim Schmukler of Chabad of New Mexico.
The Jews fought against adopting the Hellenism of the Seleucid King Antiochus IV, whose soldiers killed those who resisted, and desecrated the Second Temple with an altar to Zeus and sacrifices of pigs.
An uprising led by Judah Maccabee (“the Hammer”) and his brothers drove the Syrians out of Jerusalem, he said. During a cleansing and rededication of the temple, only one vial of uncontaminated holy oil could be found. It was supposed to burn for just one day, but continued to burn for eight days while more holy oil was being made.
The modern Hanukkah menorah, Schmukler said, has nine branches – eight to signify the eight days of the miracle of the oil, and a ninth branch called the shamash, which is used to light the other candles. One candle is added each night until all eight branches are illuminated.
“We light the candles at night and in the dark because it brings light and warmth, and we place the menorah in a window or a doorway to shine light upon the world,” Schmukler said. “That’s especially significant today, when the world faces so much darkness and so many challenges.”
For more information call Chabad of New Mexico, (505) 880-1181.