As Christians throughout the world look forward to Christmas, our Jewish friends are in the midst of their very own religious festival — Hanukkah. The 8-day celebration marks the victory of the Jewish Maccabees over the Syrian army, leading to the retaking of Jerusalem 2,200 years ago.
During this time, a miracle also happened along the way. The Maccabees went to reclaim the temple, but it had been defiled by the Syrians. In a bid to rededicate it to God they went to light the Menorah lamp that was fueled by olive oil. Despite just having a day’s supply of oil, the Menorah burnt brightly for 8 days — this is why the traditional Hanukkah menorah candelabra plays a key role in today’s celebrations.
Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah lasts for 8 days, meaning there’s still some time to participate in the celebrations with any Jewish friends and family. And we have a delicious way to do this that echoes the Christian faith, and requires only a little talent for baking and braiding!
Bread plays a quintessential part in both faiths — from the sacramental bread to the miracle of the loaves and fishes. In the Old Testament (Leviticus 7:13) bread was used as a peace offering. This is exactly what we would wish on any friend — peace. Shalom.
So why not try this tasty recipe and bake some Challah bread. The golden braided bread has a brioche sort of texture and sweetness. You could bake one one to give as a gift, or better still, share it with friends.
It’s also important to remember that according to ancient tradition, a part was meant to be set aside to give to the Kohen — Hebrew for priest that referred to the Aaronic priesthood of the time — as a sort of tithe. So you might want to save a chunk for your own priest, and make sure there’s enough to give to your friends’ rabbi, too!