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The Light of Hanukkah

December 22, 1999

I find it insulting and offensive that in her article, "Lights and Latkes: The story of Hanukkah and how the holiday grew" (Dec. 1), Susan Friedland writes that "the candle lighting was probably borrowed from pagan solstice celebrations."

According to Jewish law, the reason Hanukkah is celebrated by the lighting of menorahs is because our sages directed us to do so to commemorate the miracles that happened. I challenge Friedland to find a single reliable source that points to pagan worship as the reason.

Our sages went to great length in all aspects of Jewish law in separating our conduct as Jews from emulating anything that remotely appears like idolatry. In the case of Hanukkah, the sages declared that even oils and candles which may have been used by non-Jews for idol worship are not permitted to be used in our menorahs.

RABBI HERSHEL REMER

Los Angeles

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