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Today is the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. The holiday will run through sundown Dec. 16. (American Press Archives)<br>

Today is the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. The holiday will run through sundown Dec. 16. (American Press Archives)

Temple Sinai to mark start of Hanukkah

Last Modified: Friday, December 07, 2012 11:06 PM

From staff reportsss

Today is the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. The holiday will run through sundown Dec. 16.

Temple Sinai, 713 Hodges St., will hold a special Hanukkah service at 6 p.m. Friday, with “A Chanukah Family Night Dinner” to follow.

Rabbi Barry Weinstein, who leads services here and at Temple Shalom in Lafayette, has said that Hanukkah is also a “celebration of the concept of religious freedom.”

Hanukkah, Weinstein said, is the Hebrew word for dedication and is a celebration of the Maccabees’ victory over the Syrian Greeks, who under the rule of King Antiochus destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in 168 B.C.

The temple’s destruction started the Maccabees’ three-year struggle to rededicate the temple. According to Jewish legend, when the temple was rededicated, there was only enough oil for the lamp to last one night. It lasted for eight nights.

On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, Jews light candles on a menorah using a serving candle called the shamash.

Popular foods served during Hanukkah include the potato pancake (latkes) and doughnuts (sufganiyot). The food is cooked in oil, which commemorates the story of the oil in the lamp.

Another common part of Hanukkah is the game of spinning a dreidel, a wooden top with four letters on each side. Weinstein said the four letters on the dreidel stand for “A great miracle happened there” — a reference to the Maccabees’ reclamation of the temple.

Hanukkah is also celebrated by the giving of gifts and the singing of Hanukkah songs.

For more information on the temple’s Hanukkah services, call 439-2866.

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