A menorah lighting at Liberty Station. File photo courtesy of the Liberty Station Community Association

Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, began at sundown on Sunday with menorah-lighting ceremonies at San Diego congregations to begin the 8-day holiday.

Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the historic temple in Jerusalem following the Jews’ victory over a larger Syrian army in 165 BCE. It is the only Jewish holiday associated with a military victory.

In the United States, the holiday has evolved into a time for giving gifts to children and friends, and in some ways has become a Jewish alternative to Christmas.

In his annual Hanukkah message, President Trump said he and Melania “send our warmest wishes to Jewish people in the United States, Israel, and across the world” as the 2019 holiday begins.

“As the Jewish community gathers together to celebrate this special and sacred time of year, we are reminded of God’s message of hope, mercy, and love,” said Trump. “Throughout the coming eight days, each candle to be lit on the menorah will signal to the world that freedom and justice will always shine brighter than hate and oppression.”

The holiday was celebrated in Liberty Station with the annual menorah-lighting ceremony near the ice rink.

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