The “festival of lights” known as Hanukkah is back, and with it comes the lighting of the National Menorah, located inside Ellipse Park near the White House in Washington, USA. During this eight-day celebration, Jews around the world gather with family and friends to light an extra candle on the menorah each evening.
Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BC after Jewish fighters liberated it from foreign occupying forces. With only a small supply of ritually pure oil, they lit the menorah, and it miraculously remained lit for eight days. The holiday, which usually coincides with November-December in the Gregorian calendar, is celebrated with traditional foods cooked in oil, such as latkes, to commemorate the long-lasting oil.
This year, Hanukkah will be celebrated from December 7 to 15, and Jews across the spectrum of religious observance will focus on bringing light to darkness and emphasizing the transformative effect of even a small effort. The lighting of the menorah symbolizes this theme, with an increasing number of candles lit each night from right to left, but always lit from left to right.
The menorah is a symbol of spreading God’s light to all nations, and the tradition of lighting menorahs in city streets and parks has become more prominent in recent years. Alongside the lighting of the menorah, donations to charity and social works are also part of the celebration for many, reflecting the belief that the Jewish people are called to help make a better world for all.
As part of the celebration, Jewish seminary students in Israel light Hanukkiyah to commemorate the Festival of Lights. The menorah, a symbol of hope and perseverance, will once again spread its light this Hanukkah season.