Friday, November 29, 2002

Children tell Hanukkah story in radio program

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

GOLF MANOR - Fifteen Cincinnati children will share their Hanukkah celebration with the city in an unusual way this year - over the radio.

The children, who attend Golf Manor Synagogue, each performed in or wrote part of a 30-minute radio show titled "A Taste of Hanukkah," set to air on WVXU, 91.7 FM at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Hanukkah, known as the festival of lights, is the only Jewish festival not mentioned in the Torah. It is the celebration of the victory of Judah Maccabee and his followers over the forces of the Greek-Syrian King Antiochus IV and the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem.

The king attempted to impose Greek religion on the people of Israel and the Temple in Jerusalem was made into a pagan temple to Zeus. After a three-year revolt, which began in Mod'in, a rural town outside Jerusalem, the temple was recaptured, and the Jews demolished the altar to Zeus and built a new altar.

Jews lit the Great Menorah, and according to belief, they were miraculously able to light eight candles on eight nights from one can of oil, leading to the celebration of an eight-night commemoration.

The eight-day "Festival of Lights," which honors the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem, begins tonight at sundown.

"This is the first time we've done this, but it served not only as a good way to share the holiday with the community but it also got the kids involved and gives them a better understanding of participating in Hanukkah," said Rabbi Ben Travis, the youth director at Golf Manor. who coordinated the radio show.

Rabbi Travis, who serves at the Kollel Community downtown, has been with Golf Manor for only a few months. He got the idea for a radio show after talking with a lawyer who often fills in for a show on the Xavier public radio station.

The children range from groups of high school students who read about the history of Hanukkah and performed a skit titled "Hanukkah Anxiety" to third-grade students who read recipes for latkes, traditional potato pancakes eaten during the holiday.

Chana Rochel Bienenfeld, a 17-year-old student at RITSS High School for Girls , performed in the skit. She said performing on the radio was a unique experience.

"I think it was definitely worthwhile, and being on the radio is something everyone should have a chance to do because it really gives you a voice to reach people," she said.

For 13-year-old Yitzchak Berger , recording the radio show was a great time and it helped him learn more about Hanukkah.

"It's neat to share the Hanukkah story with people we don't even know," the Cincinnati Hebrew Day School student said. "It was really fun, and I never had the chance to do anything like that before."

The show benefits WVXU as well, said George Zahn, the station operation manager.

Typically around Hanukkah, the station airs a National Public Radio show about the holiday, but this year provided the station the opportunity to use a locally produced segment instead. The production required about two to three hours of taping and five to six hours of editing, and the staff who worked on the project donated their time.

"It was a labor of love on all parts," Mr. Zahn said. "It's really a delightful half-hour, and for children, it's a chance to hear an explanation of the season and symbols from people their own age."

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