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December 4 is the first day of Hanukkah. The Jewish holiday has been celebrated for over two thousand years. KSMU's Jana Greer has more on the history and traditions of this holiday.
In Hebrew the word Hanukkah means "dedication". It is a time for members of the Jewish community to remember the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem. The temple was taken over by Syrians who outlawed Jewish rituals. Despite their fear of the Syrians, the Jews fought back and recaptured the temple. After repairing and cleaning the temple they dedicated that day by lighting the menorah. Rita Sherwin is the Rabbi at Temple Israel in Springfield. She explains how a menorah works.
Jews believe that on that day there was miracle. There was only enough oil to light the candles in the temple for one night, but it lasted until more oil could be obtained, totalling eight nights. Today, Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting candles in a menorah every night to commemorate the eight-day miracle. Sherwin says they also remember the miracle by cooking with oil.
Hanukkah is a widely celebrated holiday, but Sherwin says that it's actually not one of the biggest Jewish holidays.
Sherwin says that because of the meaning of the holiday, it can be celebrated by everyone.
Hanukkah doesn't fall on the same days each year, because it does not follow the calendar we are most used to, the Gregorian calendar. The holiday follows the Hebrew calendar starting on the 25th of Kislev each year.