JUST FOR PARENTS
Advice and strategies to help your children read
Holiday Hanukkah is a festival of lights
Exploring the ways everyone has of celebrating together at this time of the year helps people feel connected to each other during the holiday season. Tonight Jews around the world will celebrate the first night of Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights. This holiday commemorates events that took place over 2,300 years ago in the land of Judea, which is now Israel. Long ago the Syrian King, Antiochus, ordered the Jewish people to reject their God, their religion and their customs. Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees, led by Judah, over the Syrians and the rebuilding of the Jewish temple. When the Temple was destroyed, the lamp of the Eternal Light, which symbolized the continuation of the Jewish people, was snuffed out. Only enough oil to light the lamp for one day was found. But because of a "miracle," the lamp burned for eight days -- enough time for the temple to be re-dedicated. This is why Hanukkah lasts eight days. It begins at sunset with the holiday ritual of the lighting of the "menorah", a candleholder which holds eight candles and one in the middle from which all the others are lit. It is also traditional to eat foods fried in oil, such as potato pancakes (called latkes), and to play games and give gifts to each other.