From lighting the candles on the menorah to children spinning dreidels, the celebration of Hanukkah is a joyous and beloved holiday that usually takes place in December. This year, Hanukkah begins on the evening of Thursday, December 7, when the first candle is lit on the menorah, and continues through Friday, December 15. 

The Jewish holiday, also called the Festival of Rededication, commemorates the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem after its defilement by the Syrian Greeks in 164 B.C. Hanukkah also marks a pause in a civil war between factions of the Jewish people as well as with foreign invaders. 

In addition, Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights. Lighting of the candles in the menorah commemorates the traditional thought that a small jar of oil in the temple, which was meant to last only one day instead burned for eight days. 


“Judaism teaches that we are not permitted to make use of the Hanukkah lights but only to look at them with thankfulness and appreciation — for these lights are holy,” said Rabbi David Maayan, assistant director of Saint Leo University’s Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies  and the Maureen and Douglas Cohn Visiting Chair in Jewish Thought. “So too each human being’s soul is a ‘candle of God’ [Proverbs 20:27]. 

“May we look at one another not in order to measure the other’s potential usefulness to ourselves, but for the opportunity to appreciate each person’s unique light,” Maayan continued.

Blessings to everyone and Happy Hanukkah!