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Have a menorah or candle with you to light during this unique Taos gathering, featuring candle lighting, prayers, and songs for peace.

This year is the 20th Anniversary of Peace Chanukah in Taos, an interfaith celebration of the “miracle of light,” during the Selucid era when the Maccabees overcame the Greco-Syrian invaders of Jerusalem.

Everyone is welcome to attend this event, as it is about the entire community, not just for Jews.  In fact, it’s important to note, Chanukah is not a religious holiday. In 168 B.C. the Greco-Syrian conquerors outlawed Jewish practices and forced Jews to adopt pagan rituals and assimilate into the greater Greek culture.

The Maccabees, a rag tag army of Jewish warriors,  revolted against this persecution, and recaptured Jerusalem, removing the symbols of pagan worship that Antiochus had installed in the temple, dedicating it to the God of Israel.  Hanukkah, meaning “dedication,” marked this military victory with a celebration that lasted eight days, inspired by the oil left in the temple by the Hellenists; enough to last just one night, kept lamps lit for eight. Hence the “miracle” of light.

Peace Chanukah is a free event, but as it remains virtual right now, registration is required at the website of the Taos Jewish Center, to receive a link to the event.  

Interfaith cooperation and coordination is at the core of Peace Chanukah. 

We reached out to Bette Myerson for information on this year’s special event.

Please tell us a little about Peace Chanukah, and your involvement with it.  

The very first Peace Chanukah events took place in the Middle West and East Coast in the fall of 2001, following the World Trade Center attacks. Folks thought it was important to bring together people from all faiths and all walks of life to celebrate our common humanity and pray for peace.   

The Taos Jewish Center was founded in 2002. Carmi Plaut, a member who had recently moved here from Chicago, told us about this ceremony they had had, and it was decided to do it here in the fall of 2002. Bonnie Korman helped him coordinate that first Peace Chanukah in Taos in 2002.

For the first several years, we held Peace Chanukah at the Taos Jewish Center, until we outgrew it and moved to St James Church in 2013.  I have been coordinating the event since 2011. This is our 20th Annual Interfaith Peace Chanukah. (Last year we also held it on Zoom. Hopefully next year we’ll be able to be together in person again). We know of nowhere else on Planet Earth that is doing Peace Chanukah beside the Taos community. It’s become very much a Taos event. 

Chanukah is not a religious holiday, although it celebrates a miracle — how do you think the story applies to these times?  

The important part of celebrating Chanukah to me is the importance of faith, and the celebration of freedom — religious freedom, freedom of all kinds. The miracle of the oil’s lasting for 8 days is also applicable. We all need to believe in miracles and the unexpected. 

This year Chunukah seems very early — and I do know because the Jewish calendar follows the lunar cycles (there are 13 lunar months), that’s a factor — but it seems to reflect the current imbalance everywhere!

Your point about imbalance is well taken, however, you might explain to the reader that the Jewish calendar is both a solar and lunar calendar (as opposed to the Roman calendar that we use which is completely solar). As a result, the conjunction of Jewish holidays with Christian holidays changes every year. Usually Chanukah comes in December, but this year it is very, very early. Next year the first night of Chanukah is December 18.  We have the same issues with Passover and Easter.   Sometimes they are at the same time, and sometimes as much as a month apart.

Last year you brought together a group of pretty astounding people for your virtual event, tell us a little about what you have planned this year.

We try every year to have as diverse a group of speakers as possible. There will definitely be a Roman Catholic (probably Fr Daniel Gutierrez of Our Lady of Guadalupe, though he’s not confirmed yet). Rev. Gary Kowalski of the Unitarian Congregation of Taos, who spoke last year, is delighted to participate again. We also plan to have someone from Taos Pueblo, a Hindu from the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram, a Buddhist, a Protestant, a Muslim, and a young person. Check our site for updates!

Anything else you'd like to add?

We ask that people have a candle or Menorah (some people call it a Hanukkia) with them to participate in the lighting of the candles. The other thing we do when we’re in person is collect nonperishable foods for our hungry neighbors.  In lieu of that, we ask that people support organizations here in Taos that do this good work.  See the below for these organizations. 

Peace Chanukah

November 30 at 5:30 p.m. on Zoom.

Register at:

Have a menorah or candle with you to light during this unique Taos gathering, featuring candle lighting, prayers, and songs for peace. 

There will be speakers from all faiths, including Annapurna Sydell from the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram, Khaled Khweis will represent the Muslim community,  and  Fr Mike Olsen from St James Church will also be speaking.

This event is free and all are welcome.

The event is sponsored by B'nai Shalom, the Taos Jewish Center and the Enchanted Circle Interfaith Gathering.

Those with questions are welcome to email bette@taosnet.com.

Organizations in Taos that help our hungry neighbors

The Shared Table, c/o El Pueblito United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 1302, El Prado, NM   87529  elpueblitoumc.org

The Taos Coalition to End Homelessness, P.O. Box 1516, Taos, NM   87571 taosmensshelter.org

St James Episcopal Church Food Pantry, 208 Camino de Santiago, Taos, NM   87571  stjamestaos.com

Taos Immigrant Allies, c/o B’nai Shalom Havurah, 810 Dillon Lane, Taos, NM   87571     Put “TIA” on the memo line of your check.  taosimmigrantallies.org

Sin Fronteras, P.O. Box 531, Ranchos de Taos, NM   87557 (you can find them on Facebook)

HEART OF TAOS, P.O. Box 613, Taos, NM   87571  HEARToftaos.org

Help for Afghan Refugees in New Mexico  c/o B’nai Shalom Havurah, 810 Dillon Lane, Taos, NM   87571   Put “Afghans” on the memo line of your check

Neem Karoli Baba Ashram and Hanuman Temple 416 Geronimo Lane, Taos, NM 87571 nkbashram.org

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