December 21, 2014 Doron

‘First pure olive oil produced in 2000 years’ says Temple Institute

The holiday of Hanukka is known as the festival of lights, but in many respects it is also the festival of oil, specifically the olive oil used in Temple times to light the Temple menorah, which we commemorate by lighting hanukkiot, as well as feasting on festive treats such as doughnuts and latkes.

This year, the Temple Institute, an educational and activist group dedicated to preparing the vessels for a third Temple, has produced pure olive oil fit for use in the menorah of the Temple for what it says is the first time in 2,000 years.

The production of four and a half liters of the precious olive oil this year was an extremely complex process due to the necessity of keeping it pure according to Jewish law. In addition, the ceramic flasks also had to made to conform to the standards of religious purity required for use in the Temple.

The newly pressed olive oil will feature in a festive procession through the Old City of Jerusalem on the seventh night of Hanukka on Monday from the Zion Gate to the Temple Institute’s visitors center.

According to Rabbi Haim Richman, director of the institute’s international department, the production of the olive oil required precise knowledge of an extremely specialized and complex area of Jewish law.

Due to the exacting requirements of Jewish law for producing this pure oil, the research undertaken into these precise requirements was extensive and exhaustive, said the rabbi.

One requirement for the production process was that no fertilizer be used in the growing of the olives themselves, so the institute needed to find olives grown organically. One such organic olive grove was found in the town of Ramot in the Golan Heights.

There, earlier this month, Richman and others from the Institute harvested around 150kg of olives and pressed them under strict supervision and stringent conditions, such as the requirement that no metal come into contact with the olives, into four and a half liters of olive oil.

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