Advent and Hanukkah at the Catholic University of Lublin
The event Light in the Darkness
The Abraham J. Heschel Center for Catholic-Jewish Relations at the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL) organized a joint celebration of Hanukkah and Advent for the academic community and residents of Lublin, which is a multicultural and multireligious city. “The light of the Hanukkah candlestick and the Advent wreath is an organic unity. It warms and unites,” noted Mieczyslaw Cisło, auxiliary bishop of the Lublin Archdiocese.
The event Light in the Darkness, organized for the first time at the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL), brought together many people: representatives of the Jewish community, students, and passers-by who attended this symbolic meeting in front of the main building of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin. “Light paves the way to human hearts and unites. That is why today we are together, Jews and Catholics. We Catholics are discovering the Judaic roots, and Jews are discovering the brotherhood of the Christian faith. This is the fruit of initiatives taken by the University, such as the creation of the Abraham Heschel Center for Catholic-Jewish Relations of the Catholic University of Lublin,” said Bishop Mieczyslaw Cisło, chairman of the Committee of the Polish Bishops’ Conference for Dialogue with Judaism in the years 2006-2016.
As stressed by Fr. Pawel Rytel-Andrianik Ph.D., deputy director of the KUL Heschel Center, the Hanukkah candlestick is a sign from the Old Testament of the recovery of the Jerusalem Temple, and the Advent wreath symbolizes the coming of Jesus as the Messiah. “Lublin is a multicultural, university city, which, before World War II, was home to Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, the largest Talmudic university in the world. Today the largest Catholic university in Poland, which is the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL), recalls and reminds us of the historical character of the city,” noted Fr. Dr. Andrianik.
The celebration began with the song Shema Israel, after which two commentaries were delivered. The Jewish one was presented by cantor Symcha Keller, while the Catholic one was given by Prof. Wojciech Kaczmarek, head of the Department of Drama and Theater at the Catholic University of Lublin. The meeting culminated with the joint singing of songs by both neocatechumenal and Jewish cantors. “Light unites us, rituals divide us, but this does not mean that our differences are bad. Human beings carry within themselves the light that radiates from the Hanukkiah and the Advent wreath,” concluded Symcha Keller.
Hanukkah is an annual Jewish holiday lasting eight days, beginning on the 25th day of the month of Kislev (according to the Jewish calendar). It commemorates the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple in 165 BC. With Hanukkah is associated the ritual of lighting lights – candles or olive lamps, placed on a special Hanukkah candlestick – a hanukkiah.
The genesis of Hanukkah is related to the events that took place in the Jerusalem Temple on the 25th day of the month of Kislev 165 or 164 B.C., when the ruler of Syria and Palestine, Antiochus IV of the Hellenistic Seleucid dynasty, decided to make the Jews abandon their customs, traditions and Mosaic faith and adopt Greek customs.
The Abraham J. Heschel Center for Catholic-Jewish Relations at the Catholic University of Lublin is a scientific and educational unit that aims to deepen Catholic-Jewish relations. Its patron is Abraham J. Heschel, a Jewish theologian, philosopher, and poet. The Center was inaugurated in October 2022. Its director is Fr. Prof. Miroslaw Wróbel.