( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) USPS Continues Tradition of Issuing Stamps for Hanukkah
ENSPIRE Contributor: Perry Merse Jr.
With the release of this vibrant new stamp, the U.S. Postal Service continues its tradition of celebrating Hanukkah. Also known as the “Festival of Lights,” Hanukkah is a time for family and friends to unite and rejoice. The holiday commemorates the liberation and reconsecration of the Temple of Jerusalem in the second century B.C. For 2022, the holiday begins at sundown on December 18. This is an important tradition for both the USPS and the United States as a whole. The country has a population of over 7 million Jewish people. Some Post Office officials, such as Lori Dym, come from a Jewish background.
“I remember looking forward to Hanukkah as a child, especially the traditional foods, gifts, and games,” says Dym. “And now, on behalf of the 655,000 men and women of the United States Postal Service, I am honored to participate in the unveiling of our new stamp celebrating this joyous Jewish holiday.”
Dym is the dedicating official for this year’s dedication ceremony, which was held at Temple Emanu El in Ohio. Joining her in the ceremony is Susan Krantz, president of Temple Emanu El; Rabbi Matt Cohen; Jeanette Kuvin Oren, the stamp’s designer, and artist; Kathy Mulcahy, mayor of Orange Village, Ohio; and Darcy Hershey, a congregant and administrative assistant at Temple Emanu El.
The stamp art features the design from an original wall hanging. It is hand-dyed, appliqued, and quilted, forming an abstract image of a menorah. The blue and purple colors represent the sky while the greens and browns represent Earth. The bright yellows and oranges represent the Festival of Lights.
Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew. The story of Hanukkah begins with the Maccabees, a group of Jewish fighters who liberated their temple from the Greek ruler Antiochus IV. The Greeks desecrated the temple by building an altar to Zeus. The Maccabees discovered that only one jar of consecrated oil remained – enough to last one day. Instead of waiting for more, they lit the Temple’s menorah and it miraculously burned for eight days.
Today, the miracle is celebrated with the lighting of the hanukkiah, or menorah. It holds eight candles – one for each day – plus the “shamash,” which is known as the “servant” or “helper candle” used to light the others. On the first night, a candle is placed at the far-right and new candles are added to the immediate left. On each night, the newest candles are lit first from left to right. The celebration is held in the home, where families play games, exchange gifts, sing songs, and eat traditional foods. These foods include latkes – potato pancakes – and doughnuts called sufganiyot. The holiday usually occurs in late November or December. The Hebrew calendar begins on the 25th of Kislev.
Buy the Hanukkah stamp here.