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'Break bread & spend time with family': Macon temple wishes a happy 'Challah-day' and talks about Hanukkah

Bahar says they celebrate through the lighting of the menorah for eight consecutive days, playing traditional Jewish games like the dreidel, and eating fried foods.

MACON, Ga. — Christmas is just a week away, however Central Georgia is home to many different religions and celebrations too.     

Sunday is the first night of Hanukkah, an eight day Jewish celebration known as the Festival of Lights.

Elizabeth Bahar– Rabbi for Temple Beth Israel in Macon says the Greek Empire, or the Seleucid, once took over the Jewish temple in Jerusalem and desecrated it. 

“They sacrificed a pig and made the whole place– in our mind– no longer kosher,” she said.

Once the empire was overthrown, Bahar says the Jewish people wanted to re-light the temple's eternal flame with kosher oil. They were only able to find one vial left, which would only last one day. 

The trip to get more would take eight.

 "That one vial lasted the entire eight days, which is the miracle we celebrate,” Bahar said. “We celebrate our religious freedom and holy land.”

Bahar says they celebrate through the lighting of the menorah for eight consecutive days and playing traditional Jewish games like the dreidel. 

She says the fried food is the best part.

"So, how do you celebrate oil? You do everything with oil! There's traditions of eating donuts and jelly filled donuts, of latkes --which are fried potato pancakes, fried chicken, brisket.”

Bahar says Hanukkah is a time to exchange gifts, break bread, and just spend time with family.

She says with the rise of anti-Semitism lately, it's important to celebrate Hanukkah now more than ever.

"This is a holiday about living Jewish life publicly. One of the things that we're commanded to do is to put our Hanukkah menorahs out on our windows, so that it's apparent who we are. We celebrate our identity in a positive way,” Barhar said.

Harvey Zion has been attending Temple Beth Israel for almost 30 years. 

"My kids were raised here, and they bar and bat mitzvah-ed here and confirmed here,” Zion said.

He explains that while Hanukkah is a minor holiday to Jewish people, it's a time that's special for his kids to learn more about Jewish history and traditions. 

"We would come to the temple for the Hanukkah celebration,” Zion said. “That was always neat. Everybody would be here with their kids, and they would bring their own menorah and light the menorah, and celebrate and remind them that we have our own special holiday.” 

Rabbi Bahar says they wish everyone a happy 'Challah'-day season.

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