Rabbi shares Hanukkah tradition with Christians at Naples
NAPLES, Italy — Before heading to the buffet table for latkes and challah, David McCormick happily devoured newly learned tidbits on the celebration of Hanukkah — and still hungered for more.
The 10-year-old enjoyed learning why menorahs are lit left to right, the meaning behind potato latkes, and the rules to playing with the four-sided dreidel.
And David’s not Jewish.
“I think it’s cool how these … different religions could be here tonight, how we’re here to learn about a different celebration,” the young Catholic said Tuesday evening after a Hanukkah tutorial given by Rabbi Seth Phillips.
“If only we could always be like this,” said the youngster.
Phillips delivered a spirited lesson Tuesday as the invited guest speaker at the weekly meeting hosted by the Protestant Women of the Chapel, and also attended by members of the Military Council of Catholic Women.
In spite of the groups’ names, roughly 40 men, women and children attended Tuesday’s meeting to hear Phillips, a lieutenant commander and Navy chaplain stationed here at Naval Support Activity Naples.
“We can share in each other’s cultures without compromising who we are, without losing our identities,” Phillips said.
And then he proceeded to tell about the eight-day “Festival of Lights,” which commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Maccabees. This year, the celebration began at sundown Dec. 15.
“We didn’t want to pass up this opportunity to have Rabbi Phillips come and talk to us about Hanukkah,” said Shannon Kircher, Protestant Women’s evening meeting coordinator.
“I love the Jews, for they are God’s chosen people,” said Army Sgt. Maj. Rozenia Carter, a member of the group. “I’m here because I heard the rabbi was speaking and I wanted to understand more about their culture. What a blessing it was to light one of the menorahs. … It was truly awesome.”