This year, Hanukkah begins on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 8, and ends a week later on Sunday, Dec. 16.
According to Chabad.org, Hanukkah starts on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev and lasts for eight days. For those of us who aren't attuned to the Jewish calendar, that translates to sundown on Saturday, Dec. 8.
Temple Sholom of West Essex, 760 Pompton Ave. in Cedar Grove will be holding services on Friday, Dec. 7 at 6:30 and a Hanukkah Shabbat service on Friday, Dec. 14 at 6:30 with a special Menorah Lighting.
Families are welcome to bring their own Menorah for the Dec. 14 service. Latkes will be served afterwards.
On Sunday, Dec. 9, the synagogue will hold a top traditions program, which is geared toward preschool age children. The activity, starting at 10 a.m. will feature Hanukkah crafts, stories and songs.
To conclude the Hanukkah holiday, on Sunday, Dec. 16 Temple Sholom invites its youngsters to build a Lego Menorah with their parents, grandparents, friends and relatives.
Congregation Beth Ahm, located at 56 Grove Ave. in Verona, will hold its regular services on Friday, Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 8 at 9:45 a.m.
A Special Hanukkah Junior Congregation will be held on Monday, Dec. 10 at 4:15 p.m. with the story of Hanukkah, dinner, games, songs and the lighting of the Menorah.
Congregation members are encourages to bring their own Menorah and candles.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, commemorates the story of the Maccabean Revolt against Syrian rulers in present day Israel 2,300 years ago. The Maccabees wanted to rededicate Jerusalem's main temple but had only enough oil to kindle the Eternal Light for one day. The oil lasted for eight days, according to the story, and the holiday of Hanukkah was born.
Over the years Hanukkah has become a much bigger celebration in modern America, said Rabbi Lawrence Groffman of Temple Sholom.
“It's a fun time for families to be together, celebrate our freedom and have a joyous positive Jewish celebration together as family and friends.”
Today, Jews generally celebrate by gathering together with family, lighting one candle on the menorah each of the eight nights, playing dreidel and eating special holiday foods such as potato latkes and babka.
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