The eight-day observance of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, started this past Sunday evening and will culminate this coming Monday, December 6.
Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days by lighting the candles of the Menorah, one on each day of the eight-day celebration. (The Menorah itself consists of nine candles, one of which typically stands above the rest and is used to light the other eight.)
In summary, Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees — a group of fierce warriors who used guerilla tactics against an occupying army — in 166 BCE when the Maccabees liberated the Jewish people from the Greek-based rulers who essentially had outlawed the Jewish religion.
When the triumphant Maccabees captured the city of Jerusalem, they quickly entered the Holy Temple, tossing out the images of the Greek gods that had been installed there by the occupying rulers.
When the Maccabees went to light the Menorah candles in the Temple, they thought they only had one day’s worth of oil. However, the lights remained lit for eight days — hence the miracle of the Festival of Lights.
Hanukkah is a joyous occasion for Jews world-wide, marked by gatherings of friends and families and the playing of traditional games such as the dreidel and eating traditional foods such as latkes.
Although Hanukkah celebrations this year will be much more subdued than is typical because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we want to take the opportunity to wish our friends and readers of the Jewish community a happy, healthy, and meaningful Hanukkah season.