Tuesday marked the first of the eight nights of Chanukah, and in celebration, the Jewish Community of Fort Bragg welcomed all who wished to attend to a Chanukah Candle Lighting Ceremony at the Watters Family Life Center.
“We start the holiday with one candle, one little spark of light and hope, in this time of darkness. As we stand here tonight, we celebrate with the men and women of the armed forces of the United States of America, who every day work to ensure there is light and hope in a world so often blocked by the darkness of humanity,” said Rabbi Eve Eichenholtz, Beth Israel, to the crowd at the start of her invocation.
Chanukah, also called the Festival of Lights, is a Jewish celebration of the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem. It is the story of a military victory during the Maccabean Revolt, and the story of the Chanukah miracle. Untainted olive oil, only enough to burn the temple’s menorah candle for one day, instead burned for eight.
The ceremony shared both the historical significance and message of Chanukah with attendees.
After a moment of silence for fallen heroes, command chaplains from nearly every command at Fort Bragg stood to light a candle.
After the lighting of the candles and a blessing from Capt. (Chaplain) Yisahar Izak, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, the children from the Jewish Community of Fort Bragg entertained the audience with Chanukah songs in Hebrew, English and Spanish.
Attendees were encouraged to pick up gift bags and eat latkes, traditional potato pancakes, and sufganiyot, traditional Chanukah donuts, brought in from New York after the ceremony.
The community opens this event to the entire installation so that Jewish Soldiers may show appreciation for the support of their leadership in observing their faith, explained Izak.
“It’s an exchange of appreciation.”
He said that compared to many other installations, Fort Bragg has a very large Jewish population and the sense of community provided by events such as this are invaluable to Jewish service members.
The most important thing about Judaism is having a community and the support of a Rabbi, said Capt. Alex Quitt, a Fort Bragg Soldier and Master of Ceremony for the event.
“Having a place to go on post for Sabbath every week or for most Jewish holidays throughout the year is paramount to observing your religion and feeling at home,” he explained.