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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | Nov. 27, 2013

Chapel 1 kicks off JBA holiday season

By Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier 11th Wing Public Affairs

People of different faiths gathered to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with the Christmas tree and Menorah lighting ceremony here Nov. 26.

The Christmas lighting celebrates the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, said Chaplain (Capt.) Aaron D. Reynolds, 11th Wing Protestant chaplain.

"In very ancient times, evergreen trees like this were considered a symbol of eternal life," said Reynolds. "Perhaps that symbolism is why it was adopted as a Christian symbol commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ."

That is just one of the many different stories to the origin of the Christmas tree and its meaning.

The Menorah lighting celebrates Chanukah, the commemoration of the Jewish victory over the Greek Hellenists around 175 B.C., said Chaplain Rabbi (Maj.) Raphael N. Berdugo, 11th Wing Jewish chaplain.

"As a result, the Jews were free once again to practice their religion; the Temple was liberated and rededicated. The Temple was cleansed and purified because it had been defiled by the Greeks, a new altar was built and new holy vessels had to be crafted," said Berdugo. "Olive oil was needed for the Menorah in the Temple but only one bottle was found whose seal was intact which contained enough pure undefiled olive oil to burn for one day. Miraculously, it burned for eight days - the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil."

According to Berdugo, having a Menorah and Christmas tree lighting ceremony on a military installation is so appropriate, as it reminds us so eloquently of what we are fighting for; the freedom of religion.