PORTSMOUTH — The annual Interfaith Candle Lighting for Peace will take place Sunday, Dec. 22 at 5 p.m. in the Temple Israel courtyard at 200 State St.
For the past decade, the Portsmouth interfaith community led by members of the Portsmouth Ministerium has joined with Temple Israel — the city’s only synagogue — founded over 100 years ago, to offer prayers for peace and to bask in the light of the Hanukkah candles, which symbolize religious freedom.
“Hanukkah means dedication and celebrates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem,” said Rabbi Ira Korinow, who is serving Temple Israel as the interim rabbi. “Nearly 2,200 years ago, the small Jewish army, known as the Maccabees, defeated the large and powerful ancient Greek-Syrian army. Their victory enabled them to rededicate the Temple in Jerusalem as a Jewish Temple after the ancient Greek-Syrians had defiled it by worshipping idols there. A story written hundreds of years after the first Hanukkah says that the Maccabees found a flask with enough oil to kindle the lights in the Temple to last only for a day; however, it miraculously lasted for eight days which is the amount of time it would take to acquire more oil. The members of Temple Israel have always taken pride in sharing the message of religious freedom and the miracle of Hanukkah with the Portsmouth community by having a Hanukkah Menorah lit each of the eight nights of the holiday and placing it in a window of the synagogue overlooking State Street for all who pass by to see. It is a custom prescribed by Jewish law that the community share the sacred message of Hanukkah and the joy it brings by placing the Hanukkah Menorah in the window.”
This year’s Interfaith Candle Lighting for Peace has a special meaning. The candles will be lit, as has been the practice for the past decade, in the Hands of Hope sculpture in the Temple Israel courtyard. The sculpture was created by Sumner Winebaum, a longtime member of Temple Israel, who passed away in July.
“During his lifetime, Sumner Winebaum had transformed the greater Portsmouth community and beyond both through his philanthropy and through the many sculptures that he created, including for Young and Rubicam Advertising in New York, York Hospital in Maine, the Japanese American Society, public parks in York and, of course, for Temple Israel and for numerous individuals as well. His creative work can be seen in many places in our community,” said Korinow. “This years’s Interfaith Candle Lighting for Peace on Sunday will pay tribute to Sumner Winebaum and the impact that he had on the life of our community in greater Portsmouth.”
Following the lighting of the candles, everyone will enjoy singing Hanukkah songs and be treated with kosher sufganiot, jelly filled mini doughnuts, which is a special Hanukkah sweet. Everyone is invited.