The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah—also called the Festival of Lights—begins this year on Saturday at sundown. In the Hebrew lunar calendar, Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25th day of the month of Kislev and runs for eight days, concluding this year on Sunday night, Dec. 16.
Eagle Rock, Highland Park and Mount Washington residents will have several opportunities to take part in local observations of the holiday.
Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock will host a Community Lights Hanukkah Party on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 5711 Monte Vista St.
Community members are invited to come sing Hanukkah songs, eat latkes, light the giant Hanukkiah, and win a raffle prize. Raffle tickets are $5 and can be purchased at Temple Beth Israel up to and on the day of the party.
Anyone interested in helping to set up on the day of the party can volunteer, here.
On Sunday, Dec. 9, Temple Beth Israel invite community members to help spend an afternoon setting up for the Hanukkah party. A cookie-bake will be held from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and setup will take place from noon until 4 p.m.
What is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah is a celebration commemorating the Maccabean Revolt, a battle between the Jews and the Seleucids, who ruled Israel more than 2,000 years ago.
The Jews drove the Seleucids out of Jerusalem and reclaimed their desecrated holy temple, according to the Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center.
The victors found a one-day supply of olive oil that had not been contaminated by the Seleucids and used it to light the temple menorah. The miracle of Hanukkah is that the oil—which was supposed to last for only one day—lasted for eight days, hence the length of time Hanukkah is celebrated today.
Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting a candle on the menorah on each of the eight nights. Other customs include eating traditional foods made with oil, such as potato latkes and deep-fried, filled donuts known as sufganiyot, and playing with a spinning top called a dreidel, which is inscribed with the Hebrew acronym for "A great miracle happened there."