A SMALL community of Jewish people in Tamworth have quietly celebrated the Festival of Lights.
For most, Santa, sleigh bells and carols mark the approach of Christmas each year – but it’s not a holiday that everybody celebrates.
At least 20 Jewish people live in Tamworth and NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff told The Leader a little about their traditional celebration, Hanukkah.
“At this time of the year Jewish people have just finished celebrating Hannukah and the Festival of Lights,” he said.
“It’s a reaffirmation of the Jewish faith, the focus as with Christmas is around children and reminding them of the importance and sanctity of the faith.”
Usually Jewish people gravitate towards communities where a synagogue is already established, that’s likely why the Jewish community in Tamworth is so small Mr Alhadeff said.
And while there’s no such thing as Jewish Santa, families share the tradition of ringing the Hanukkah bell, lighting the menorah – a seven candle lampstand lit daily with fresh consecrated olive oil from the evening to the morning for eight days, according to Exodus.
Families sing in a circle and spin the dreidel, a four-sided spinning top and a favourite among kids.
“The community has shrank in Tamworth considerably,” Mr Alhadeff said.
“What many Jewish individuals do during Christmas is provide support so that Christian Australians can take time off and celebrate Christmas.
“In hospitals Jewish medical staff will volunteer to do extra shifts to relieve their Christian counterparts on Christmas, they’ll put up their hands for soup kitchens and work as Lifeline counsellors.
“That’s a positive attribute in this country, whether people are celebrating Christmas, Indian Duvali or Ramadan.”
Hanukkah is celebrated from December 2 to 10.
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