Hanukkah: Festival of Lights

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, begins Tuesday night. Looking for a place to celebrate the holiday?

Happy Hanukkah!

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah marks 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.

It's a holiday that brought Jewish families together for prayer, music, singing, games, gift-giving and traditional foods.

The Beth Israel: The West Temple, 14308 Triskett Rd. in Cleveland's West Park neighborhood, one of only a handful of temples on the west side of Cleveland, is hosting Hanukkah services starting tonight.

Here are a few more:

Tuesday, Dec. 20: Chanukah (one candle)
Wednesday, Dec. 21: Chanukah (two candles)
Thursday, Dec. 22: Chanukah (three candles)
Friday, Dec. 23: Chanukah (four candles)
Friday, Dec. 23: Chanukah Latke Supper and Service
Friday, Dec. 23: Erev Shabbat Service
Saturday, Dec. 24: Chanukah (five candles)
Saturday, Dec. 24: Torah study
Saturday, Dec. 24: Shabbat services
Sunday, Dec. 25: Chanukah (six candles)

We thought we’d share a few fun Hanukkah facts:

• If you're enjoying potato latkes for the holiday, it's likely they came from one of two states. The U.S. Census Bureau says 50 percent of all the nation's spuds are produced in Idaho and Washington.

• Hanukkah is a big boost for the candle industry. In 2009, U.S. manufacturers shipped $1.5 billion worth of candles. 

• A legend has it that a dejected George Washinton wandered through camp at Valley Forge one bitter night. At this stage in the war, he was hated by his soldiers, but he encountered a friendly Jewish soldier sitting by a menorah. When the young soldier told Washington the story of Hanukkah, a small army's victory over a great empire, Washington got inspired and turned the war around.

• The first appearance of Chanukah at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was in 1951, when Harry Truman accepted a Menorah as a gift from the Prime Minister of Israel David Ben Gurion. In 1979 President Jimmy Carter was the first president to officially "recognize" Chanukah as an actual occurrence. Every president since has followed suit and attended a Menorah-lighting ceremony, always making sure to give Christmas a shout out as well. In 1993, President Bill Clinton hosted the first Menorah-lighting ceremony in the White House. 

Judith Weiss December 22, 2011 at 07:21 PM
A couple of small corrections: Beth Israel-The West Temple is the ONLY Jewish synagogue on Cleveland's West Side. Members come from all over the area, from Oberlin to Berea to Lakewood, and there are even a couple of members who journey across Cuyahoga from the East Side. Yes, a lot of candles are sold at Chanukah, but since they come in small boxes and it's only once a year, I don't think they account for much of that $1.5 billion. We do use a lot of Shabbat (Sabbath) candles, though--at least two per family, every week of the year. There will be a latke (potato pancake) dinner at 6:00 this Friday, Dec 22 at 6:00; followed by a Shabbat/Chanukah service at 7:00 at Beth Israel. For more information, call the Temple at 216-941-8882.
Colin McEwen December 22, 2011 at 07:50 PM
Thanks for the clarification, Judith!


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