This year, the eight day Jewish festival of lights will begin on the evening of Sunday, December 22 lasting until the evening of Monday, December 30, 2019.
Hanukkah, the Hebrew word for dedication, commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem which was vandalized after the Greek King of Syria forbade the Jews from worship-ping or practicing many of their faith's rituals. The temple was reclaimed after a battle with the Syrian army for eight days and nights in 165 B.C.
The holiday is celebrated by the lighting of the menorah. According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication of the temple, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate fresh olive oil. Each night of the festival of lights, another light on the menorah is lit until all eight lamps shine on the eighth night.
Hanukkah is also a joyful celebration, especially for children. After lighting the Hanukkah candles together, families and invited guests will eat and play games. Traditional Hanukkah food is oil-rich in commemoration of the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. Potato pancakes are a Hanukkah favorite. Israelis eat Hanukkah dough nuts called soofganiot. Dreidel (sivovon in Hebrew) is a traditional Hanukkah game, with game rules so simple that the whole family, from toddlers to grandparents can play together. The custom of giving Hanukkah gelt (money) to children has evolved into a gift-giving tradition in many Jewish families today
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