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>Israel Faxx
>JN Dec. 23, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 234

20% Growth in Chanukah Candle Sales

  Approximately 170 million candles made expressly for  Chanukah
will be sold  this  year, an increase of 20%  compared to the  year
before, the Israel Manufacturers Association reported, with sales
between NIS 8-10 million.

World Leaders to Light Chanukah Lights

By IINS News Service

The Government Press Office has detailed plans that include leaders of various countries, who will light the first Chanukah candle, to open the celebrations marking the start of Israel's 50th Jubilee celebrations. The Foreign Ministry has succeeded in getting 33 nations to participate in the lighting ceremony.

Among the leaders are President Bill Clinton, who will light a Chanukah candle in the Oval Office, together with pupils from a Jewish school; British Prime Minister Tony Blair; German President Roman; French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin; Canadian Prime Minister Jean Cretien; Australian Prime Minister John Howard; Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schiessel; Thailand Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai; Georgia President Eduard Shvardnadze; Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel; and Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, who will light the Chanukah candle under the Arch of Titus.

Deputy Prime Minister and Tourism Minister Moshe Katzav will attend the ceremony in Rome, with the Italian President and other leaders. The ceremony will take place Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. (EST). Katzav, Italian Prime Minister Romano Parodi, Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Minister Walter Voltroni, the Mayor of Rome Francesco Ratali, the Chief Rabbi of Italy Elio Toaff and Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Milo will speak at the ceremony.

An artistic program will accompany the ceremony. Katzav will also attend at 11:30 a.m. (EST), at the Vatican Gardens, a ceremony to light the first Chanukah candle by Cardinal Cassidy and Vatican Secretary of State Monsignor Jean Luis Taurin.

Other leaders who will light Chanukah candles are the presidents of Costa Rica, Slovenia, Cyprus, Ireland, Finland, Uruguay, Ecuador, Latvia, Moldova, Bolivia, Kyrgyzstan, the Dominican Republic and Macedonia; and the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and the Netherlands. Other dignitaries will include the Foreign Minister of Myanmar; the president of the Chamber of Representatives of Uruguay; the foreign minister of Romania; the deputy chancellor of Austria; the foreign minister of Bolivia; the foreign minister of France and the mayor of Marseilles.

Five Indicted in Maccabiah Deaths

Five Israelis faced charges Monday that their negligence

building a bridge caused the deaths of four Australian athletes at the opening ceremonies of Israel's international "Jewish Olympics" five months ago.

An 11-page indictment charged engineer Micha Bar-Illan, metalwork contractors Yehoshua Ben-Ezra and Baruch Caragula, production company director Adam Meshori, and Yoram Eyal, chairman of the Maccabiah Games organizing committee. A hearing was expected at a later date. Two Australians were killed and about 70 injured in the collapse of the pedestrian bridge. Two Australians died later from infections caused by the polluted Yarkon River water into which they fell.

Bank Employee Demands Woman's Child Wait Outside

By IINS News Service

An Ethiopian woman came to a branch of Bank Tefachot in Kiryat Gat, together with her son last week and was shocked when a bank teller asked the woman to leave her son outside, to prevent him from infecting others.

The 23-year-old woman, who was in the bank last Thursday with her 5-year-old son, refused to comply. Only after a sharp exchange of words did bank employees agree to deal with her.

The mother, now in tears, explained her son had a skin condition that presented with blotches but he was not contagious in any way. The mother explained that the bank teller asked what was wrong with her son. She responded telling of his skin condition and assured the teller that it was not contagious.

"He is not a dog and not an animal," she shouted refusing to comply with the teller's request.

The bank manger intervened, demanding the teller apologize. He also apologized in the name of the bank. The woman stated she did not want apologies but she expected the bank to take care of what needs to be done.

IDF Issues New Sleep Orders

By IINS News Service

Following a study into accidents that took place during military exercises and on the road, it was learned that lack of sleep played a big factor. A new order from the General Staff is awaiting the signature of Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shachak, which would require all soldiers receive a minimum of 6-hours net sleep a day.

Until now, "sleep" time also included time allotted for showering and other duties. Now, commanders must allocate 6-hours for sleep only. In the case of soldiers needing to report for sentry duty during the night, a soldier must be given a minimum of three consecutive hours sleep, before being awakened for watch duty. If for some reason a soldier did not receive 6-hours sleep, it must be given the following day.

Chanukah 1997-5758

Israel Government Press Office

Chanukah (which means "dedication" in Hebrew), one of Judaism's most popular holidays, is celebrated this year between sunset Tuesday and sunset on Wednesday, Dec. 31.

It commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Jews led by Judah Maccabee in 164 BCE - after it had been defiled by the ruling Seleucid (Syrian Greek) Kingdom under Antiochus IV -- and the re-establishment of the Jewish people's religious freedom after a period of harsh repression.

The success of the popular revolt led by Judah Maccabee and his brothers has, throughout subsequent Jewish history, up to the present day, symbolized the Jewish people's fight for, and achievement of, its liberty and freedom as a nation against what appeared to be overwhelming odds.

(Chanukah is not a legal holiday in Israel; offices, shops, and public transportation will operate as usual.)

Historical background to Chanukah

In 200 BCE, the Seleucid King, Antiochus III, conquered the country and incorporated it into his kingdom. Neither he, nor his son and successor, Seleucus IV, forced their Hellenistic culture on the Jews. However, his second son, Antiochus IV, who acceded to the throne in 175 BCE, instituted -- with the active acceptance and support of many Jews -- a policy of forced Hellenization and enacted harsh policies against those Jews who would not adopt Hellenistic culture. Jews were forced to eat pork; Sabbath observance and circumcision were made punishable by death.

In 167 BCE, the Temple was desecrated and dedicated to the Greek god Zeus, becoming the center of an idol-worshipping cult.

In 165 BCE, a popular revolt broke out against the Seleucid Kingdom, led by Mattathias, an elderly priest from the town of Modi'in (east of Lod), and his five sons.

Mattathias soon died, and was succeeded by his third son, Judah, also known as Judah Maccabee. Following a brilliant guerrilla campaign -- as well as several victories against far larger, regular Seleucid armies -- Judah's forces succeeded in liberating Jerusalem in the winter of 164 BCE. The Temple was cleansed and, on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, rededicated.

According to rabbinic tradition, during the rededication, when Judah's men sought to relight the menorah, or candelabra, in the Temple, sufficient pure, undefiled olive oil was found to last for only one day. But the small quantity of oil miraculously burned for the eight days that it took before new oil could be pressed.

The holiday of Chanukah commemorates both the liberation of Jerusalem and rededication of the Temple, and the miracle of the oil. In one of the blessings recited each night, the Jewish people praise God, "who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this season."

Observance of Chanukah

The main element of the observance of Chanukah is the lighting of the eight-branched menorah (or chanukiah) in the very late afternoon (not before the sun has begun to set) or at night. On the first night, one candle (or oil lamp) is lit, on the second two, on the third three, etc., until the eighth night when all eight candles (or oil lamps) are lit.

There is always one extra light (the "shamash") which stands apart from the others and which is used to light them. Special blessings are said while lighting the menorah; the lit menorah is traditionally placed in a window or doorway where it will be visible from outside the home, in order to publicize the miracle of the oil.

It is customary to eat foods fried in oil -- typically jelly doughnuts or potato pancakes (latkes) -- during Chanukah. Children are also given four-sided tops to play with.

In the Diaspora the sides bear the Hebrew letters which form the acronym: "A great miracle happened there." In Israel, the sides bear the Hebrew letters which form the acronym: "A great miracle happened here."

In the State of Israel, Chanukah is marked by a torch relay from Modi'in to Jerusalem; giant menorahs are also lit in public squares. Chanukah is marked by special prayers and scriptural readings in the synagogue, as well as by a special addition to the regular blessing after meals.

Preview of Catholics' Bethlehem Statement

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

The Roman Catholic patriarch of Jerusalem has offered a preview of the message he will deliver when he leads Christmas Midnight Mass in Bethlehem Wednesday night.

Patriarch Michel Sabah issued a tough political message last year, criticizing Israel for closing the Palestinian areas, confiscating Palestinian property, and stifling the Palestinian economy. This year, he still refers to political issues, but puts them in a more traditional Christmas context.

"My Christmas message is a message of hope as our general situation, political, economical, and social is getting worse. Hope for all those who are tired, frustrated and worried for their future and the future of their children."

Sabah, a Palestinian, says he hopes particularly that Israeli leaders move toward peace and justice, that extremists on all sides of the Middle East conflict find moderation, and for better relations between Christians and Muslims throughout the region.

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