President Obama Speaks at an Afternoon Hanukkah Reception

The eight-day Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, or the festival of lights, begins at sundown on Tuesday.

The holiday is celebrated by lighting candles, starting with one and adding one each night until eight are lit, on a special candelabrum called a menorah.

Other traditions include playing games with a dreidel, a four-sided top, and eating foods cooked in oil, such as potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts. Gifts are often exchanged as well.

The Bible doesn’t mention Hanukkah, which is based on a more recent historical event. In the period 170-160 BCE, Jerusalem was ruled by a Syrian-Greek government that took over the ancient temple and sought to stamp out the Jewish religion. A revolt led by Judas Maccabeus reclaimed the country and the temple.

Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, commemorates the re-dedication of the temple following the Greeks’ occupation.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.