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Staff and students from the Jewish community will be celebrating Hanukkah from the evening of Sunday 22 December to the evening of Monday 30 December.
Also known as the Festival of Lights and Feast of Dedication, Hanukkah (also known as Chanukah) is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple - the Second Temple - in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt.
More than 2,500 years ago a Syrian king, Antiochus, tried to make the Jewish people worship Greek gods. A statue of Antiochus was erected in a Jewish temple and the Jews were ordered to bow down before him. The Ten Commandments forbid Jews to worship statues or idols and so they refused. A small group of Jews called the Maccabees rebelled, and after a three-year war they recaptured Jerusalem from the Syrians. The Maccabees repaired the temple, and when they were finished, they rededicated it to God.
They did this by lighting a Menorah once a night for eight nights - the Maccabees found they only had enough oil to maintain the Menorah for one night, but miraculously, the oil burned for eight nights. The Menorah is then placed in a window to signify lighting up the world. The middle or higher candle – Shamash – is the ninth candle that is used to kindle the others.
Typically, many Jewish households and families will celebrate this period by dancing, praying, playing and by feasting on various Jewish recipes: sufganiyot – deep-fried doughnuts, beef brisket, latkas – fried potato pancakes and many more. Many of the foods consumed are cooked in oil to represent the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days.
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Page last updated on Monday 17 June 2019 at 3.56pm.
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