Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights. It begins at sundown tonight. In Hebrew, the word Hanukkah means dedication and is a reminder that this holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E. The traditions of Hanukkah may vary somewhat among communities, but three traditions are universally celebrated. They are: lighting the hanukkiyah (somewhat different than a menorah), spinning the dreidel, and eating traditional foods.
As we drive around our neighborhoods during this time of year, we see beautiful lights adorning trees and houses in and around the city. Christmas is a holiday to celebrate with lights. Lights on the trees, displayed on our homes, and hung from the Christmas tree, which we so lovingly put in our houses to adorn with presents. But did you know that Christmas is not the only significant holiday that is celebrated this time of year with lights?
While many are still in the last-minute Christmas rush, those who celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah are beginning their eight-day celebrations this week. On the 20th at sundown, they will start their festival of lights, a holiday that remembers the story of freedom and oil that lasted their temple lights eight days instead of merely one.
It's a story that all of us can relate to, a story of faith over doubt and hope in dire times.
December 8th marked the start of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. Hanukkah, which means "Dedication" in Hebrew, lasts for 8 days and nights, a length of time that is symbolic of the miracle that is said to have occurred during the Second Century BC when the Second Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated. Despite the fact that rebels defending the temple from their Greek-Syrian oppressors had only enough oil to keep the candles burning for a single night, the oil lasted for 8.