`Olive Oil an Important Part of the Festival of Lights - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil an Important Part of the Festival of Lights

Dec. 15, 2010
Christian Brazil Bautista

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Olive oil, a tra­di­tional part of Hanukkah rit­u­als, over­flowed dur­ing the Israeli fes­ti­val’s eight-day run which com­menced last week.

Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, cel­e­brates the reded­i­ca­tion of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem dur­ing the 2nd cen­tury B.C. revolt of the Maccabees. One of the most impor­tant rit­u­als of the fes­ti­val cel­e­brates the mir­a­cle of the flask of olive oil that was sup­posed to only last for one day but burned for eight. The mir­a­cle is cel­e­brated through the light­ing of a meno­rah (eight-branched candelabra).

This year, olive oil was abun­dant for the fes­ti­val. Grocery stores around the coun­try sold jumbo 5‑litre bot­tles for about 200 Israeli new shekels ($US 56). Bottles of olive oil were made avail­able near the cash reg­is­ters of phar­ma­cies as impulse items.

Golan Heights, which pro­duces some of the best wines in the coun­try, also has a cli­mate that is ben­e­fi­cial for olive cul­ti­va­tion. Eretz Gshur, one of the brands that have set up shop in Golan Heights, has ben­e­fited from the prox­im­ity with wine pro­duc­ers. In an inter­view with Lubavitch.com, Ehud Soriano, Eretz Gshur’s mar­ket­ing man­ager, said, You can cut and paste a lot of vine­yard knowl­edge to grow­ing olives for oil.”

The com­pany, which cold presses its olive oil accord­ing to vari­ety, pro­duced 80 of the 16,000 tons of olive oil con­sumed in the coun­try last year. Eretz Gshur has ben­e­fited from knowl­edge pro­vided by Prof. Shimon Lavee, a researcher from the Agricultural Research Organization. Lavee cul­ti­vated the Barnea olive, one of the vari­eties grown by the com­pany. The Barnea, which is now grown world­wide, is a mild and quick-grow­ing vari­ety of olive which yields oil eas­ily and can be har­vested mechanically.

In an inter­view with Lubavitch.com, Daniel Esses, a man­ager for olive oil pro­ducer Halutza, said that this year’s unusu­ally dry weather has led to good con­di­tions for har­vest­ing ripen­ing olives. Heat is the issue now,” he said.

In spite of its imme­di­ate pos­i­tive effects, lack of rain may dimin­ish next year’s har­vest. But that’s a prob­lem for the future. This year at the Festival of Lights olive oil flowed freely.

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