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Eight Nights Aglow

Dreidels spinning, latkes (potato pancakes) frying, yummy sufaniyot (round jelly doughnuts).

It's time for Chanukah (Hanukkah)!

Celebrated on the (lunar) Hebrew calendar on the 25th of Kislev, the holiday generally falls within December on the Christian calendar.

But what is the holiday all about?

The holiday commemorates the rededication of the Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the victory of Judah and the Maccabees over the Syrian oppressors of the Jewish people in the land of Israel, in the second century B.C.E., more than 2000 years ago.

Upon victory, the priests entered the temple and cleared it of the pagan idols which the Syrians had placed there. When they went to light the menorah that is to shine eternally, they saw that there was only enough oil to last a single day. Miraculously, the lamp remained lit for 8 days, before more oil could be obtained.

It is this miracle which the holiday of Chanukah commemorates and why it is celebrated with the lighting of a menorah and eating foods prepared in oil.