The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after a successful battle won by Judah Maccabee against the Greek and Syrian armies around 165 B.C.
During the time of rededication, miraculously, a single day's supply of oil burned for eight days. Today the Hanukkah menorah has nine branches and commemorates that event as each of the eight candles are lit every day of the holiday and the ninth candle, called the shamash is used to light each of them.
The celebration of Hannukah begins tonight, Dec. 20, with the lighting of the first candle on the menorah. The last is lit on Dec. 28.
Already a holiday that brought Jewish families together for prayer, music, singing, games, gift-giving and traditional foods, Hanukkah–since the winter holiday usually falls near Christmas–a Stanford University survey found that American Jews observe it more adamently than in Israel to preserve the traditions and significance of Hanukkah.
Spinning the dreidel and eating fried foods like latkes, or potato pancakes, and jelly-filled donuts are traditional family and community activities in addition to lighting the menorah. has become more commonplace too.
The dreidel, a top, has four sides with Hebrew letters that together mean, "a great miracle happened there."
Locally, several synagogues, temples and organizations will host Hanukkah events:
- will host their annual Chanukah party starting with the havdallah and bring-your-own chanukiah lighting, followed by a delicious Chinese dinner prepared by C & E Catering. It takes place Sat., Dec. 24 at 6 p.m. After dinner, the HNT Theatre will be showing the classic movie The Princess Bride. It's $10 for adults and teens, kids ages 3-12 are $7 and 2 & under are free.
- will hold their Hannukah Celebration on Tues., Dec. 27 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. $18 adult, $11 child, $60 family