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Hanukkah (Hebrew: חנוכה), also known as Chanukah, is an eight-day Jewish festival that commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. The festival is observed by lighting the menorah, a unique nine-branched candelabrum, with one additional candle lit each night. Other significant aspects of Hanukkah include the recitation of prayers and blessings, singing traditional songs, and indulging in foods fried in oil, such as latkes and sufganiyot, to remember the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days when there was only enough for one.
The origin of Hanukkah can be traced back to 164 BCE, when the Maccabees, led by Judah Maccabee, defeated the Seleucid king Antiochus IV and liberated the temple in Jerusalem. In America, Hanukkah holds special significance due to its proximity to the holiday season. It provides an opportunity for Jewish families to come together and celebrate their heritage during a time when many other cultural and religious festivities take place. Additionally, it serves as an important reminder of the story of the Jewish people's resilience and the power of light over darkness.
In the United States, Hanukkah is observed similarly to other parts of the world with some unique American twists. Families gather to light the menorah, exchange gifts, and participate in community events. Dreidel, a spinning top game, is played by both children and adults as a fun and educational activity to understand the historical events behind the festival. The specific dates for Hanukkah vary each year, as it is determined by the Hebrew lunar calendar, but it generally falls between late November and late December.
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