THE JEWISH festival of Hanukkah was celebrated in several places throughout Slovakia, but a big Hanukkah menorah was placed near the former Košice synagogue, now the House of Arts. The nine-branched candelabrum was two metres tall and the first of eight lights placed in it was lit on November 27 by the president of B’nai B’rith Concordia, Tomáš Teššer. Other lights were lit on each of the successive days.

“One of the Jewish proverbs says that deeds of fathers are a sign for their children,” Teššer said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “If we don’t want the once strong Jewish culture in Košice to remain a mere memory, we have to send a message to the public that we are here and to inspire our followers. This is our commitment towards our ancestors who left for all of us a precious spiritual and cultural heritage.”

Hanukkah, known as the Festival of Lights, commemorates the miracle when the Jerusalem Temple was re-consecrated after the Maccabees’ revolt in the 2nd century BC. When the Maccabees cleaned the Temple and lit the eternal light, they had oil only for one day, while the shortest possible term to make new oil was eight days. According to the tradition, a miracle happened and this small amount of oil lasted for all eight days.

The tradition in Košice of lighting a Hanukkah menorah in front of the former synagogue began last year, with the event attended by Košice Vice-mayor Ján Jakubov and Israeli Ambassador to Slovakia Alexander Ben-Zvi.