Waves HanukkahJoint American stamp Sharon

  • Issue: October 1996
  • Designer: Hannah Smotrich (USA)
  • Stamp size: 39.6 x 25.1 mm
  • Plate no.: 287
  • Sheet of 20 stamps Tabs: 4
  • Printers: Avery Dennison, USA
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

The Hanukkah holiday and the lighting of the candles are to remind us of and symbolize the dedication of the Holy Temple following the victory of the Jews over the Greek Syrian forces, lead by Antiochus Epiphenes, in the year 164 BCE. The Jewish rebellion against Greek rule broke out after Antiochus enforced edicts nullifying the religious beliefs of the peoples under his rule. Jews were forbidden to keep the Sabbath and conduct circumcisions, the Holy Temple was desecrated by idol worshipping, and the Jewish rituals previously conducted there were halted. The rebellion was lead by Matityahu the Hasmonean, a priest from Modi'in, and his five sons. After a number of battles lead by Yehuda HaMaccabee, the City of Jerusalem was liberated from the Greeks. The Hasmoneans purified the Temple so that the worship of God could resume. They purified the seven branched oil lamp in which the priests burned oil candles, and found one cruse of oil which had not been rendered impure by the Greeks. Tradition tells that the oil in this single small cruse lasted for eight days. This is the Miracle of Hanukkah. Since ancient times, it is customary to light an additional Hanukkah candle on each additional holiday eve in an eight-branched Hanukkia (lamp). The Hanukkia is placed in a prominent spot or near a window so as to publicize the miracle. The eight candles in the Hanukkia are lit with a special candle, called the shamash. The candles in the Hanukkia, are not to be used for any purpose other than being seen. Special holiday songs accompany the candle lighting, the best known of them being Maoz Tzur. The Hanukkah holiday falls on the 25th day of Kislev. The name Hanukkah has a number of possible derivations. It is possibly from the dedication (Hanukkah) of the Holy Temple, or perhaps the Hebrew name stems from hanu and kah, with hanu meaning the warriors rested after their victory, and kah meaning 25, as in the 25th day of the month of Kislev. The holiday name could also possibly be an acronym for the Eight Candles and the Jewish Law According to the Hillel School. The Hillel school determined the Jewish custom, still accepted, whereby one candle is added for each day of the feast, until eight candles are lit in the Hanukkiah on the last day of the holiday. The Shamai School decided that eight candles should be lit on the first day of the holiday, with one candle less being lit during the following days of the holiday. Accepted Jewish Law was determined by the Hillel School.

Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Maccabee Holiday. Children particularly enjoy Hanukkah because of the holiday custom of eating doughnuts and potato latkes, fried in oil, to commemorate the miracle of the lasting oil. The children also play games with a special. Hanukkah spinning top and receive Hanukkah gifts.

The lighting of the Hanukkah candles has become a symbol of the victory of light over darkness, of bravery and the struggle for freedom of faith and national liberty of a people in their homeland, the few battling against the myriad.

The seven branched lamp has become part of the national symbol of the State of Israel.

The joint American-Israeli production of the Hanukkah stamp issue is evidence of the special relationship between the two countries. The stamp is unique in that it is the first Israeli self adhesive stamp.

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