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  TREE OF LIGHT
A DRAMATIC MUSICAL HANUKKAH ADVENTURE
                                 IN TWO ACTS
ABOUT SHIMON THE MESSIAH WATCHER (64 B.C.E.)

    
Hanukkah is an annual winter festival celebrated for eight 
days beginning on the 25th. day of the Jewish lunar month, 
Kislev. (December)  It is also known as the Feast of Lights 
or The Feast of Dedication. 
     
     It is a story of dedication, courage and faith in the G-d of 
Israel. Jewish history is filled with countless miracles of how 
God supernaturally protected and preserved His people from 
those who sought to destroy them. At the heart of Hanukkah 
is worship. It is a testimony of Israel's unwillingness to bow 
down and worship any other god but the G-d of Israel, 
Creator of heaven and earth.
     
     This feast was instituted in 164 B.C.E. in what was known as 
the four hundred silent years between the Old and New Covenant
writings. It is a celebration of the victory of the Jews over the
Greco-Syrians who tried to force them to assimilate into their
Hellenistic Greek culture. The Hellenists had nothing but disdain
for the Jewish nation and their way of life and sought to 'civilize'
the people of Judah by forcing them into their Greek mold under
the megalomaniac Antiochus Epiphanes IV (meaning 'god manifest')

     Antiochus IV, King of Syria, prohibited the Jewish practices of 
the Temple ritual, study of the Torah, observance of the Sabbath,
and circumcision of children.  In 167 B.C.E. the Temple in 
Jerusalem was desecrated by Antiochus, who sacrificed a pig 
on the altar.
The Temple was turned into a pagan shrine complete with cultic
prostitution and many devout Jews lost their lives. 

     The Hasmonean family of five brothers under the leadership of
the father, Yudah Maccabeus,  met these edicts with an uprising
against Antiochus. When the Syrians were defeated in 164 B.C.E.
and the Temple cleansed, tradition says a miracle took place in the
Holy Place of the Temple.  Special holy oil stored in flasks with the
reigning high priest's seal on them were used to keep the Temple
 Lamp stand, the seven branched Menorah.  The entire supply was 
destroyed during the desecration, except for one solitary flask.

     This flask was normally only enough of a supply for only one day.
Yet it is told that it miraculously lasted for eight days until a new 
supply was consecrated. The Jews looked upon this as G-d's 
favor and blessing upon His people and instituted it as a day to
be celebrated by their descendants. Today, a special Menorah 
called a Hannukiyah ( a nine branched Menorah ) is used. The 
Shammash (servant candle) is lit first and it is then used to light
the other candles.

     On the first night of Hanukkah one candle is lit from the 
Shammash, two are lit on the second night and so on throughout
the eight days of the Feast.  Today gifts are exchanged at 
Hanukkah, usually gelt (coins) representing the sovereignty the
Hasmoneans gained by minting their own currency. Games are
played especially with a four-side top called a dreidel.
   
     Tree of Light tries to span the centuries of the four hundred
years by flashbacks to crucial historical moments. Few people
know that the Jewish exilic prophet Daniel directly prophesizes
of the events leading up to the celebration of Hanukkah. This play
gives attention to the revelations of G-d in this little known era.
We trust that you will find it to be a source of new insight and
inspiration from the past to the present, and find that G-d is
indeed working in our days....  

                                                                   
Larry Heather
                                                                    Playwright and Director