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What’s Hanukkah?


In December, Jews celebrate Hanukkah or the “feast of the lights” to commemorate a miracle that took place in the Temple, after it had been profaned by the Greeks.

The celebration lasts for 8 days, beginning on the 25th of the month Kislev in the Jewish calendar, and it never falls too far away from Christmas.

During Hanukkah, Jews remember the victory of the Maccabees over the Hellenists in 2nd century BC, and the recovery of Jewish independence and the later purification of the Temple of Jerusalem, which had been used by the Hellenists to worship their pagan idols.

But the story that Jews remember the most during Hanukkah, and which Jewish tradition has passed down, is that of the miracle of the oil of the lamp of the Temple: during the Hellenists’ eight-day siege of the Temple, the Maccabees were able to keep the candle needed for worship lit with only a very small amount of oil. This gave rise to the feast of Hanukkah, and today, a candle is lit each day in the hanukkiah, or a candelabra with 9 arms: one for each day of the feast and one in the middle, from which to light the other candles.

Families and friends gather in their homes every night to light the hanukkiah. They say some prayers and sing songs of Hanukkah. Last but not least, there is the delicious tradition of eating sufganiyot, or jelly-filled donuts that have been fried in oil.

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