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Chanukah

A Celebration of Light

Chanukah—the eight-day festival of lights—celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, the pursuit of peace over violence, spirituality over materiality. Over 21 centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Syrian-Greeks, who sought to instill their practices on the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of Jews known as the Maccabees defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, reclaiming the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicating it to the service of God.

Though initially a minor holiday, Chanukah has become one of the paradigmatic Jewish holidays. Commemorating this victory of the Jews over the Syrian-Greeks in 164 BCE, it is celebrated by lighting a chanukiyah, or menorah, for eight days, eating latkes, and playing dreidel. The word Chanukah itself means “rededication,” and now each of us experiences the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to Jewish tradition and practice.

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