Hanukkah is happening, what to know about it

A view of the "Whirl of Whimsy" sculpture in the shape of a dreidel honoring the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah displayed along Fifth Avenue on December 4, 2020 in New York City. Many holiday events have been canceled or adjusted with additional safety measures due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic./Roy Rochlin

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, also known as the “Festival of Lights,” begins Thursday night.

News 8 sat down with Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort to hear exactly how this Jewish holiday came about.

Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after a small group called the Maccabees defeated the Greek Syrian army. During the battle, the Jews had only enough oil to light the Temple’s menorah for one night, but the oil lasted for eight.

So how did Hanukkah become an important Jewish observance?

Laurie Coskey, rabbi and is executive director, San Diego Continuing Education Foundation.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as Jewish immigrants migrated to the United States, Jewish parents began buying gifts for their children to represent their American acculturation, a symbol of their reaching for a better life. Hanukkah became increasingly significant for Jewish families to offer their children a joy-filled holiday, perhaps even as a compensation for Christmas. As my professor Jonathan Sarna explained, “the relationship of Hanukkah and Christmas mirrors the relationship of Judaism and Christianity within the larger culture. Jews want to be part of the larger culture and simultaneously want to stand apart from it. They seek to be different but also to be accepted as equal.”

Today it is estimated that more than 42% of all Jewish families in the United States are interfaith. Conversations between family members with different religious and life experiences are even more essential today. In the Jewish tradition, we learn about two ancient scholars, Hillel and Shamai. Shamai taught to light all of the candles on the first night of Hanukkah and take one away each night. Hillel taught to light one candle on the first night of Hanukkah and add a candle each night. The sages of old decided in favor of Hillel, instructing us to increase the joy by increasing the light.

celebrate increasing the light. In this season where national and public discourse proves difficult and contentious, let us have conversations about light in our homes and among our families. Tell your loved ones stories about the traditions of the past and the struggles that have been overcome. Feed them with the foods of the season and let the season nourish them with love. Reach out to others, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Jewish or follow other faith traditions, and let them shine new light into old traditions

When does Hanukkah start in 2020?

This year, Hanukkah starts at sunset on Thursday, December 10.

Each year, Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of Kislev, which is the ninth month of the Hebrew calendar. The Hebrew calendar is lunar, as opposed to the Gregorian calendar that most of the world uses, which is solar.

Because of the calendar difference, the start of Hanukkah seems to move around. Occasionally it overlaps Christmas and in 2013, the “Festival of Lights” even coincided with Thanksgiving, something that won’t happen again until the year 79,811.

How many days does Hanukkah last?

Hanukkah lasts for eight days.

What do you eat on Hanukkah?

The traditional Hanukkah foods include fried potato pancakes, called latkes, and jelly donuts, called sufganiyot. Latkes and sufganiyot are typically fried and are meant to commemorate the Hanukkah miracle of the oil lasting for eight nights.

Where to celebrate Hanukkah safely in San Diego?

Chabad of La Costa is holding a drive-thru Hanukkah experience where people can drive by backdrops to learn what the holiday is about. Rabbi Eilfort says the event will also feature live music in the background. At the event, a giant menorah will also be lit.

The Rabbi called the second event the “big daddy of them all.” All the Chabad Centers throughout San Diego are getting together for a Hanukkah drive-in concert which is being produced by the same people who put on “Concerts in your Cars.” The event will take place at 4:30 p.m. on December 14 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and will star Israeli superstar Gad Elbaz. Interested in attending? Click here for tickets. Tickets are $99, but if you use the promo code KFMB you will receive 50% off your ticket price.

Liberty Station Hanukkah Menorah Lighting

  • WHENThursday, December 10, 2020 at 5 p.m.
  • WHERELiberty Station’s Central Promenade, San Diego, CA
  • AGESAll ages
  • COSTFree

Thursday, December 10 at 5 p.m.

Liberty Station in partnership with The Chabads of Downtown San Diego and Pacific Beach will host a public menorah lighting at Liberty Station’s Central Promenade to commemorate the first night of Hanukkah on Thursday, December 10 at 5 p.m.

The magical, family-friendly festivities will be complete with music and the traditional lighting of the menorah.

Liberty Station, in partnership with The Chabads of Downtown San Diego and Pacific Beach, will host a public menorah lighting at Liberty Station’s Central Promenade to commemorate the first night of Hanukkah on Thursday, December 10 at 5 p.m.

The magical, family-friendly festivity will include entertainment (Cyr Wheel Acrobats & Fire Dancers), packaged treats, and the traditional lighting of the menorah. Liberty Station’s outdoor Central Promenade has 20,000 square feet of space to spread out and socially distance. We ask guests in attendance to please stay masked up when not eating or drinking.

Following the first night of Hanukkah, the menorah will stay outdoors on display in Central Promenade, lighting up each night of Hanukkah.

Parking: There is plenty of free parking at Liberty Station in the adjacent parking lots and on the street.

Stay-at-home order: Per County and State health guidelines, this event is permitted as it’s a religious gathering outdoors. All health and safety guidelines will be followed.

For more information on Liberty Station’s holiday activities, visit SaluteTheSeason.com

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