Hanukkah resources to help you celebrate the holiday in ways meaningful to you
Read the story of Hanukkah:
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights or the “miracle of the container of oil”, is an eight-day holiday starting on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. From the Hebrew word for “dedication” or “consecration”, Hanukkah marks the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Rebellion of the 2nd century BCE after its desecration by the forces of Greek-Syrian ruler Antiochus IV. According to the Talmud, at the time of the rededication, there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Greek army. Oil was needed for the menorah (candelabrum) in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle.
The festival is observed by the lighting of a special candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah or Hanukiah, one light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. An extra light called a shamash (Hebrew: “guard” or “servant”) is also lit each night for the purpose of lighting the others, and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest.
It is traditional to eat fried foods on Hanukkah because of the significance of oil to the holiday. Hanukkah food specialties include latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts). Other traditions include playing the game of spinning the dreidel, singing Hanukkah songs and gift-giving, typically one gift for each night of Hanukkah.