Monday, December 10, 2012

President Gül issues message to mark Jewish holiday

President Abdullah Gül honored the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, or Festival of Lights, on Friday and stated that he sincerely welcomes the holiday.

In a message released by the Presidency Press Center, Gül sent greetings to Turkish Jews as they began the celebration of Hanukkah, an eight-day religious holiday.

Moshe Fink, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, prays next to candles lit during the Jewish festival of Hannukah in the Mea Shearim neighbourhood in Jerusalem on Dec. 8, 2010. (Photo: Reuters, Baz Ratner)

“Religious holidays in which joys are shared and in which families, neighbors and friends come together to exchange affection, respect and fraternity are sacred days for the spirit of unity and solidarity to come into existence. The holiday of Hanukkah has become an occasion for all of us to remember the universal values of all of humanity,” Gül said in the message.

Gül also praised Turkish Jews in his message. “Our Jewish citizens who have come to prominence with their success in the social, professional and academic fields throughout our history and who have also shared our joys and sorrows will continue to contribute to Turkey,” he noted.

Hanukkah is a significant religious holiday for Jews around the world. During the holiday, which lasts eight days, Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians in 165 B.C. and the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem. This victory marked the end of a three-year period of religious persecution, restored Jewish independence and ensured the survival of monotheism.

According to legend, when the Jews returned to cleanse their temple, which had been defiled by pagan worship, they discovered only enough consecrated oil to keep the holy lamp burning for one day. However, the oil miraculously lasted eight days, the time needed to secure a new supply. Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting a candle on each of the eight nights. On the first night, one candle is lit in a branched candlestick called a menorah, and an additional candle is lit each night through the eighth night.

Source: Today's Zaman

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