Hanukkah Quick Facts - IL

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2023 Date15 December 2023

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Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is an important observance in the Jewish calendar, signifying the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following a successful revolt against Hellenistic oppressors. It represents the triumph of light over darkness and of hope over despair. The Hanukkah Ends or the eighth day, in particular, marks the conclusion of this commemoration, mirroring an important aspect of perseverance and survival throughout adversities by the Jewish people.

While Hanukkah’s roots trace back more than twenty centuries ago, the finishing event, Hanukkah Ends, bears important significance within the Jewish community in Israel today. It holds the symbolic reminder of the brave revolt led by the Maccabees against the Greek-Syrian rulers, a revolt that culminated in the miracle of the oil that lit the temple menorah for eight days. This fortitude embodied in Hanukkah Ends is particularly significant to the people of Israel as it validates the shared history, resilience, and collective identity of the Jewish community.

In Israel, the observance of Hanukkah and its conclusion is marked by lighting the menorah for eight nights in succession, with one extra light being added each night. Special prayers and songs exist to emphasize the joy of the festival, with notably increased emphasis on singing and celebratory gatherings on the final night as Hanukkah Ends. Traditional foods such as latkes and sufganiyot are often consumed during this time. The Hanukkah Ends falls on the 2nd or 3rd of the Tevet in the Hebrew Calendar, which usually corresponds to late December in the Gregorian Calendar used in Israel and around the world.

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Facts about Hanukkah

  • Hanukkah commemorates the cleansing and re-dedicating of the Temple in Jerusalem more than 2000 years ago. Syrian king Antiochus had ordered the Jews to abandon the Torah and worship Greek gods. In retaliation, Judas Maccabeus retook the temple in Jerusalem.
  • On the final night of Hanukkah, the last candle of the menorah is lit. The lighting of the menorah serves as a reminder to those passing by of the miracle that occurred so long ago when the remaining bit of pure oil burned for eight nights.
  • The "miracle of the oil lamp" refers to a legend where a one-day supply of oil miraculously burned for eight days.
  • Oily foods like latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) are commonly eaten during Hanukkah to symbolize the miracle of the oil.
  • In Hebrew, Hanukkah translates to "dedication," referring to the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees defeated the Seleucid Greeks.

Top things to do in Israel for Last Day of Hanukkah

  • Enjoy traditional fried foods like latkes, sufganiyot, or apple fritters.
  • Visit the Israel Museum or the Eretz Israel Museum, where you can often find events like Hanukkah craft making or art exhibitions related to the festival.
  • Catch festive performances like the annual Hanukkah Concert at the Jerusalem Theater or other concerts featuring Israeli musicians and artists.

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