Contributors: Jared Morgan and Anthea Raymond
The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah—also called the Festival of Lights—begins this year on Saturday at sundown. It runs for eight days, concluding this year on Sunday night, Dec. 16.
Families celebrate privately by lighting one candle on the menorah each night of the holiday and exchanging gifts each night.
Many public celebrations are happening throughout the community as well:
Family Service: Sunday, Dec. 9, 4 to 6:30 p.m.
Congregation Beth Shalom
Hanukkah Celebration: Sunday, Dec. 9 from 6 – 8 p.m.
Sisterhood Hanukkah Dinner: Mark your calendar for the Sisterhood Ḥanukkah dinner on Friday, Dec. 14. Friday night services will begin at 6:30 p.m. with dinner following at 7:30. Cost is $12 per person, $6 for children 10 and under. RSVP to the Temple office. For more information, visit http://www.temple-bnai-israel.org/.
What is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah is a celebration commemorating the Maccabean Revolt, a battle between the Jews and the Seleucids, who ruled Israel more than 2,000 years ago.
The Jews drove the Seleucids out of Jerusalem and reclaimed their desecrated holy temple, according to the Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center.
The victors found a one-day supply of olive oil that had not been contaminated by the Seleucids and used it to light the temple menorah. The miracle of Hanukkah is that the oil—which was supposed to last for only one day—lasted for eight days, hence the length of time Hanukkah is celebrated today.
Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting a candle on the menorah on each of the eight nights. Other customs include eating traditional foods made with oil, such as potato latkes and deep-fried, filled donuts known as sufganiyot, and playing with a spinning top called a dreidel, which is inscribed with the Hebrew acronym for "A great miracle happened there."