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Mercy High School ~ Farmington Hills, Michigan


Mercy High School ~ Farmington Hills, Michigan


Mercy High School ~ Farmington Hills, Michigan


Hanukkah: The Jewish Festival of Light

Photo from Creative Commons

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Light that is observed annually over the span of eight days. The timing of the festival follows the lunisolar Hebrew calendar, beginning on the 25th day of Kislev every year. This year, Hanukkah will began on the evening on Thursday, December 7, 2023 and will conclude on Friday, December 15, 2023. Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew and is celebrated through the acts of gift-giving, candle lighting, and other fun festivities! 

Why is Hanukkah celebrated?

Hanukkah is celebrated to commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. In 164 B.C., a group of Jewish people known as the Maccabees fought against Syrian Greeks for a total of three years before finally claiming victory and taking control of the Land of Israel. The Maccabees were able to succeed in liberating the temple and, by defeating the Greeks, Jewish people won the right to practice their religion. Hanukkah is a way to celebrate this great victory and to also reaffirm the ideals of Judaism.

“As a Rabbi and a member of the Jewish community, Hanukkah is a celebration of life in the world, with the idea being that we remember the ancient story of the Maccabees winning back the temple in Jerusalem. It was a miracle of light that really represents the idea that good always overcomes evil,” Rabbi Joshua Bennett said. 

What traditions are celebrated on Hanukkah?

One of the biggest traditions of Hanukkah is lighting the menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum. On each night of Hanukkah, one candle is lit until all eight candles are lit together on the last night. 

“Every Jewish family that celebrates Hanukkah lights the menorah. We add one candle every night for the eight days of Hanukkah, representing the miracle of the oil burning in the ancient temple,” Bennett said. 

Other Hanukkah traditions include eating fried foods, playing games such as dreidel, singing Hanukkah songs, giving gifts to loved ones, reciting blessings, etc..

“Besides the menorah, there are other traditions like giving charitably or playing the dreidel,” Bennett said. “And, most importantly to me, is eating latkes, which are fried potato pancakes. We eat fried food because the oil represents the ancient miracle.”

Why is Hanukkah significant?

Hanukkah celebrates freedom from oppression as well as the freedom of religious expression. The holiday serves as a reestablishment of faith for practitioners around the world. The light symbolizes the faith and hope that can be found in the world. Hanukkah is a time for Jewish people all over the world to connect with their faith and celebrate!

“We now live in a world where there’s constantly challenges around us, which is why it’s so important to remember that there is always light and hope. Hanukkah, in essence, is a sign of hope for the Jewish community,” Bennett said. 

Photo from Creative Commons: 

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