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December 24, 2016

Hanukkah means “dedication” or “consecration”, and is also called “The festival of lights.” This is a Jewish festivity that lasts eight days starting on the 25th day of Kislev which normally occurs late November or early December.

This holiday marks the defeat of a large Syrian army by a small group of Jews and the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem  in 165 BC. It is a story about of a people overcoming terrible odds and maintaining a communal identity is spite of widespread and even forced assimilation.

On the Calendar

In 2016, Hanukkah will begin at sunset on Saturday, December 24 and continues to sunset on Sunday, January 1.

Jewish Holida

A winter solstice holiday in the ancient world, Hanukkah has always been a minor holiday in the Jewish religion.

In the United States Hannukah has acquired added importance because it falls close to Christmas.


After they defeated Syrian King Antiochus' huge army in 165 BC, the Jewish Maccabees returned to the ransacked Temple in Jerusalem, hoping to rekindle the eternal lights that stood as symbols of their enduring faith. Although only enough oil remained to last one night, the flame miraculously glowed for eight days and nights, allowing the Jews enough time to make the oil needed to keep the eternal lights aflame. The celebration of Hanukkah commemorates this event.


For many Jewish families, Hanukkah is an opportunity to celebrate one another as they make and buy gifts, and prepare special holiday meals.

Celebration of the holiday often includes lighting a special eight-branched lamp called the chanukiah or menorah, starting with the ninth candle or bowl of oil called the Shamash. The Shamash is used to light the remaining eight, one for each night. 

The holiday's symbols include the dreidel top that children spin to earn golden chocolate coins called gelt; the menorah, which represents the enduring faith of the Jewish people; and the oil of Hannukah, whose significance is highlighted in the preparation of fried foods, such as potato latkes or pancakes.

Other traditional Hannukah foods include latkes, doughnuts called sufganyot, or blintzes.

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