Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights begins Tuesday night (and lasts for the next eight nights).
While we might be familiar with some traditions of the holiday – eating latkes, jelly donuts and playing dreidel for gold coins – the focus of the holiday is lighting the Chanukkiyah – the 8 branched Candelabra, and adding a light for each night of Hanukkah.
We light the candles to remind us of the hard fought battle of the Maccabees to win religious freedom for the Jews back in the days when the Assyrian Greeks forbade them to celebrate the customs that make them unique, in 164 BCE. We also light them to remember the miracle of a flask of oil in the Temple in Jerusalem, which lasted for eight nights (when there was just enough oil to last for 1 night).
Hanukkah is about becoming aware of the miracles that surround us; celebrating the traditions and customs that make us unique; and bringing light and passion into the dark nights of winter.
Happy Hanukkah all!
Dasee Berkowitz is an educator at in Sag Harbor.