Residents of the city of Shechem on Thursday night were also able to see the “pirsuma d’nissa” (publicizing of the Hanukkah miracle) through the lighting of Hanukkah candles in an unusual place – from the top of Mount Ebal overlooking the Biblical city.
The youth of the predominantly Orthodox town of Yitzhar (pop. 1,468), held a traditional “swearing in” ceremony on Mount Ebal on the third light of Hanukkah, for new boys who joined the group. They rode on a bus to the middle section of the tall mountain, where they began to climb up on foot, issuing assignments, challenges and group-building contests for the young squad.
Back in 2008, the NY Times once described Yitzhar as “an extremist bastion on the hilltops commanding the Palestinian city of Nablus … [where] a local war is […] being waged.” Clearly, had the NY Times been around in 167 BCE, it would have issued a similar description of the Maccabim, substituting ” Hellenized Jews” for “Palestinians.”
Upon reaching the summit from which one can view the city of Shechem and Joseph’s Tomb, the members of the Yitzhar youth group lit a menorah that was big enough for the entire Arab city to see.
The night hike then continued into the night and ended with a festive prayer near the site of the Joshua Bin-Nun altar at the foot of Mount Ebal.