BROWNSVILLE, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — Wednesday evening marked the beginning of the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah, Marty Watson tells us what one Jewish temple, in Brownsville, is doing to prepare for the festivities.
Fernando Russek, from Temple Beth Israel, "Hanukkah in Hebrew means dedication and it's a holiday where we celebrate, we remember when God helped us fight against religious oppression when the Greeks took over what is today Israel."
This year Hanukkah coincides with another very familiar holiday Thanksgiving, Fernando Russek, "It's the first time in more than a hundred years it falls in Thanksgiving because the Jewish holidays goes with the Jewish calendar, which is a lunar calendar."
The next time these two holidays collide will be in a reported 70,000 years, Fernando, "It's two celebrations where we're giving thanks. So Thanksgiving, we give thanks to God for everything we get and Hanukkah we give thanks to God for helping us get religious freedom."
While gift giving, chocolate eating and small games are all traditions of Hanukkah, one of the most significant activities to mark the occasion is the lighting of the Menorah, Fernando, "Hanukkah lasts for eight nights, today is the first night and every night we light a candle."
Many Jewish Americans eat the same oil based foods and sweets found in Israel at this time of the year as Rachel Russek stated, "You just eat a lot of Latkes, which is like potato pancakes and it's like bread and oil and you eat Sufganiyah which are like jelly filled donuts."
Because of the small Jewish population in the RGV the congregations are expected to be smaller, Fernando, "Here in the Valley we have about a thousand families of Jewish people so we'll expect between 60 and 80 people to come for services Friday night."