21 grudnia 2008

The President of RP, Mr Lech Kaczyński initiated the tradition of lighting of Chanukah candles by the Head of State: for the last two years it was held in the Presidential Palace, whereas this year in the Nozyk Synagogue. This is the first visit to the Synagogue of the President in office since the Second World War.

The ceremony was attended by the Presidential Couple, the Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the President of RP, Mrs Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, Undersecretary of State in the Chancellery of the President of RP, Mr Mariusz Handzlik, the Chaplain to the President of RP, Rev, Father Roman Indrzejczyk, the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, the President of the Jewish Religious Commune in Warsaw Mr Piotr Kadlčik, as well as representatives of the Jewish community.

After the Polish National Anthem which was sung by the choir of Lauder-Morash Schools in Warsaw, the guests were welcomed by the President of the Jewish Religious Commune Mr Piotr Kadlčik. Then, Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich said a Moshe Schorr prayer and a prayer for the Home Country which was composed especially for the occasion.

The President of RP lit the first Chanukah handle, whereas Rabbi Michael Schudrich together with the Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of the State of Israel to Poland Mr Alon Simhayoff lit the supporting candle.

At the end of the ceremony, the President of the Jewish Religious Commune offered to the President of RP, Mr Lech Kaczyński the text of the prayer composed at the 90th anniversary of Poland’s regaining independence.

The Chanukah holiday is a commemoration of the cleansing and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem which was desecrated by the Greeks in the 2nd century B.C. and recovered by the Jewish community in the Maccabean Revolt. When the Jewish insurgents captured the Temple, they only found in it one vial of consecrated oil eligible to be burnt in Menorah standing in the Sacred Place as the Torah of Moses required. That volume of olive was only capable of fuelling Menorah fire for one day. Nevertheless, it would take eight days to replenish and consecrate the stock of olive. But God made a miracle and made the olive from one vial burn for eight days until the new oil was pressed.

The most important rite of the Holiday is that of kindling the lights: starting from one on the first day, through two – on the second and ending with the eighth day when eight lights are burning (eight olive lamps or contemporarily eight candles). A special candelabrum: Chanukija is used for the purpose. Next to the Chanukija, other sources of light must be provided as well since the candelabrum cannot be used for utility purposes but only as a token of a miracle.