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>Israel Faxx
>PD Dec. 6, 1996, Vol. 4, No. 221

Hanukkah Stamp is Now Available

By Alix Sobler (VOA-New York)

The United States is issuing a special series of holiday stamps representing the nation's cultural diversity. The first of that series, a stamp representing the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, was presented Thursday in New York.

Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, is being shared by more people than usual this year. The United States has issued a new stamp with an artist's rendition of the candle holder used by Jews all over the world to celebrate the eight days of Hanukkah. The issuing of this stamp is of special significance to a governor of the United States Postal Service, David Fineman, who is Jewish. At a ceremony to introduce the stamp, Fineman explained why the Postal Service has decided to focus on ethnic diversity.

"It is extremely significant that the Postal Service recognizes ethnic diversity in America. America, and particularly New York City, is not a melting pot, it just is not. And if it was a melting pot, it would probably be very boring. I heard it described better as a good vegetable soup. You know, we can reach inside, we can see all the differences, and when we put them all together, we get something we call America."

Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Jews over the Syrian-Greeks in the year 165 BCE. Fineman said the story of the courageous fight and the effort to retain religious freedom holds a special message for Jews and oppressed people all over the world. "What the holiday of Hanukkah really represents, and represents to me, is a question of a victory over bigotry."

The Hanukkah stamp was designed by the graphic designer Hannah Smotrich. It is the first stamp to be issued by both the United States and Israel. In the future, the United States will issue a stamp representing the African-American celebration of Kwanza. Stamps representing the Christian holiday Christmas have been issued in the United States for more than 30 years.

In accordance with the key principle of Hanukkah--the festival of lights "to publicize the miracle," and in conjunction with the rulings by the United States District Court, as well as, the confirmation of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, permitting the 18-foot-menorah to be erected and displayed on Fountain Square each Hanukkah, a candle lighting ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, December 11, 5:00 p.m., on Fountain Square in Cincinnati.

The candle lighting ceremony promises to offer a beautiful program. Hot Hanukkah latkes (traditional potato pancakes), distribution of Hanukkah literature and Hanukkah "Menorah Kits," singing and dancing, will highlight the one-hour ceremony. For further information on Chabad programs call 821-5100, E-Mail or log on to Chabad's World Wide Web site at

Hanukkah in Easy English

By Nancy Steinbach (VOA-Washington)

Thursday night was the first night of the Jewish celebration, Hanukkah. Hanukkah celebrates the story of the Maccabee family. The Maccabees led a rebellion for religious freedom long ago.

More than 2,000 years ago, a Greek-Syrian king ruled the area that is now Israel. He attempted to suppress the Jewish religion. He placed statues of Greek gods in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. He also tried to force the Jews to accept his religion.

Judah Maccabee led a small group of Jews against the Greek-Syrian ruler. The Jews won the battle. They also won the freedom to follow their own religion. They began to remove the Greek influences from the Temple in Jerusalem.

Old books say that the Maccabees found only enough oil to light the holy Temple lamp for one day. Yet that one-day supply of oil burned for eight days--until the Jews could bring more oil to the Temple. For this reason, Hanukkah is celebrated each year for eight days.

This year, Hanukkah began last night. Jews all over the world said Hebrew prayers. They lit a lamp called a menorah. A menorah holds nine candles. One candle is called the shamus. It is used to light the other candles.

On the first night of Hanukkah, only one candle is lit with the shamus. On each of the following nights, one more candle is lit. On the last night of Hanukkah, all eight candles and the shamus will burn brightly. On each night of the celebration, parents tell the Hanukkah story to children and guests. Everyone sings songs of joy. They play games and eat special foods. And they exchange gifts. It is a happy time.

Jews do not consider Hanukkah a major religious celebration. But Jewish leaders say Hanukkah is important. It is a time for Jews to give thanks for the freedom to worship God in their own way.

Swiss Turned Back at Least 30,000 Refugees in World War 2

Neutral Switzerland turned back at least 30,000 refugees seeking asylum during World War 2, triple the number previously acknowledged, researchers said. However, the numbers do not add up because many people whose first petitions were rejected tried to cross into Switzerland anyway. The study, by the Swiss Federal Archive and the Federal Bureau, confirmed Switzerland took in 230,000 refugees. Investigators examined 45,000 refugee dossiers from 1936 to 1946 in order to compile the record.

Students to Learn Arabic

Students in grades 7 through 12 will be required to study Arabic beginning next year, according to a Ministry of Education decision. The decision was reached after consultations with high-ranking IDF officers who had reported a lack of Arabic-speaking manpower, especially in the Israeli intelligence. Arutz-7's reporter notes that 160,000 students in junior high schools are already studying Arabic.

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