San Antonio Catholics and Jews Celebrate Hanukah
Catholics and Jews gathered in San Fernando Cathedral Hall in San Antonio to celebrate Hanukah a week before the holiday. It’s the fifteenth year the two faiths have come together for the interfaith celebration.
The hundred and fifty plus Jews and Catholics here today are quiet as the choir from Providence High School, a Catholic girls school, sings Hanukah Oh Hanukah, a traditional holiday song. The song is followed by an opening prayer by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller.
Samuel Stahl is the Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Beth El in San Antonio. He says Jews and Catholics in the city share a friendship, as well a concern for the poor, the homeless, and immigrants. He says it feels wonderful to share the holiday together.
“It was almost a reaffirmation of the bridges that have already been built in this community between the Catholics and the Jews, going way back before Vatican II when the church did not have a friendly relationship with the Jewish people” Stahl says. “But that was not the case in San Antonio.”
Julie Berlin is the cantor at Temple Beth El. A cantor is the religious official in a synagogue who leads songs and sings solo. She led the Hebrew prayer for the lighting of the menorah candles.
Father Victor Valdez is the rector at San Fernando Cathedral. He says he’s here to celebrate Hanukah in part because Catholicism stemmed from the Jewish faith. And, he says, he just likes the holiday.
“Of course it’s very festive,” says Valdez. “It’s what I like about the Hanukah. This wonderful celebration that we had here of the lighting of the candles was very beautiful. And they connected it to the light, God being the light, and for us as Catholics, Christ is the light. So I said there are so much connections and there’s so much similarities, and it’s really wonderful.”
The first night of Hanukah falls on Christmas Eve this year. The Hanukah menorah is lit each night for eight nights.