Chanukah, voices of lights

A radio program by the European Institute of Jewish Music, hosted by Hervé Roten

MUSIQUES JUIVES D’HIER ET D’AUJOURD’HUI – TUESDAY DECEMBER 16, 2014, JUDAÏQUES FM (94.8), 21H05

The celebration of Chanukah – sometimes called the Festival of Lights – celebrates the victory of the Maccabees against the Hellenistic dynasty of the Seleucids, in the 2nd century BC. Like Purim, this festival symbolizes the spiritual resistance of Judaism to any attempt of annihilation.

In – 168, the Seleucid king Antochios IV published an edict of abolition of the Jewish law. Temple worship, festivals and circumcision were outlawed, with death penalty for those who continued to observe the Shabbat. The Temple of Jerusalem was dedicated to the Greek god Zeus.
These events brougt about the revolt of the Maccabees. Led by Mattathias and his sons (including Judah), they managed to deliver Jerusalem and its Temple after 3 years of struggle.

Chanukah – which in Hebrew means “edification” – commemorates the re-inauguration of the altar of offerings in the second Temple of Jerusalem. According to the rabbinic tradition, during this consecration occured the miracle of the vial of oil, allowing the priests of the Temple to burn for eight days a quantity of oil barely enough for a day.

The practices and customs associated with this holiday are related to the miracle of the oil vial, especially the lighting of the Chanukah eight-branch candelabra during the eight days of the festival, and the eating of sweets made from olive oil (latkes, soufganiot …). Children also play with four-sided spinning tops. And the joy is expressed with the omnipresent music, as the last verse of the hymn Maoz tsour underlines: Az egmor beshir mizmor `hanoukat hamizbea`h (We will celebrate and sing your holy altar restored).

The cantor and rabbi Jacques Arnold will offer us a luminous and musical vision of this festival: from liturgical tunes of Chanukah to children’s songs (spinning top, dougnuts …) and popular songs (Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arab, Yiddish …).
herve_photo_retouche_fond_uni_bleu_500px.jpgOfficer of the Ordre of Arts and letters, PhD in musicology at Paris University Sorbonne, prize-winning graduate from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, Hervé Roten is the director of the European Institute for Jewish Music since its creation in 2006.
Ethnomusicologist, he quickly developed an interest in the safeguard and digitization of archives, subjects he taught for several years in Reims and Marne-La-Vallée universities.
Author of many articles, books and recordings related to Jewish music, producer of radio programs, Hervé Roten is recognized today as one of the best specialists of Jewish music in the world.

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