The eight-day observance of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, starts this Thursday evening, December 7, and will culminate on Friday, December 15.
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.)
Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees 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 candles 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 — and delicious! — foods such as latkes. Needless to say, in the aftermath of the events of October 7, as well as the appalling subsequent increase in anti-semitic incidents in America and around the world, Hanukkah this year will have special meaning for Jews the world over.
We wish to take this opportunity to wish our friends and readers of the Jewish community a happy, healthy, and joyful Hanukkah season and we join them in solidarity against anti-semitism in all its forms.