Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration also known as the Festival of Lights or the Festival of Dedication. This year it began on Sunday, December 2, and will end on the evening of Monday, December 10.

Traditional Sufganiyot.

Hanukkah, which means dedication in Hebrew, is inspired by events that took place in 200 B.C in the ‘Land of Israel.’ A large rebellion broke out after the son (Antiochus IV Epiphanes) of a Syrian king, sent his own soldiers and made a sudden attack upon Jerusalem because he demanded that the Jews worship Greek Gods. The Syrian King, however, allowed the Jews to continue practicing their religion, unlike his son Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The soldiers murdered thousands of people and degraded the city’s holy second Temple.

After two years of the rebellion against the Seleucid Empire, which was taken over by a man named Judah (after the passing of his father), the Syrians were successfully driven out of Jerusalem. Judah called for the Second Temple to be cleansed; Judah also called for a rebuild of the altar, which was originally built to honor Zeus, and to light its Menorah.

A Menorah is a gold Candelabrum and its seven branches represent knowledge and creation.

After the cleansing of the temple upon Judah’s order, the Menorah had been lit. The Menorah only had enough oil to burn for a day. However, in what was considered a miracle by witnesses, the Menorah kept burning for eight nights. This event inspired Hanukkah, which is celebrated on a yearly-basis and is an eight-day celebration.

Today, Hanukkah is a worldwide celebration and has many unique traditions. Some of the historical traditions of Hanukkah is to enjoy foods fried in oil such as potato pancakes (Latkes) and jam-filled donuts (Sufganiyot). Other traditions include playing with spinning tops, called Dreidels, exchanging gifts, or giving money to the children of the family on each day of the celebration. The main tradition is the lighting of the Menorah and reciting prayers or blessings.

There is also a variety of Hanukkah festivities in the community. The Festival of Chanukah (same meaning as Hanukkah) is a celebration with the lighting of Canada’s tallest Menorah, with live music and free refreshments. The event starts at 5:30 pm on December 12, 2018 and is located at Vancouver Art Gallery plaza, on Georgia and Hornby St. Admission is free.

The Or Shalom Synagogue, located on 710 E 10 Ave, is hosting a Chanukah Latke dinner and music from 5:30- 9:00 pm on December 7, 2018.The dinner will consist of latkes and a vegetarian potluck, story-telling and singing, and a Kabbalat Shabbat service; it is free of charge and open to anyone. More information can be found on their website.

If you are looking traditional Jewish food, there is no better place to visit than the Mensch Jewish Delicatessen located on 666 East Broadway, Vancouver for some authenticity. You may also visit the Omnitsky’s Kosher Deli located on 5775 Oak street, Vancouver where you can find Menorah’s, candles, Dreidels, and Hanukkah eats. Happy Hanukkah!

Photo courtesy of Zion Judaica and Chatelaine