Known as the “Festival of Lights,” Hanukkah is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods and spiritual reflection. The eight-day celebration in the Jewish faith begins at sundown on Dec. 22 to commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over Greek-Syrian ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Although Hanukkah is not a major Jewish holiday, it rose to prominence thanks in part to the story of faith and miracle behind its tradition.
Approximately 2,200 years ago, Greek rule oppressed Judaism and forced Jews to worship Greek gods in Jerusalem. The second temple was defiled and no longer pure. A rebellion led by the Maccabees eventually lead to the unruling of Antiochus and the temple was reclaimed.
While followers of the Maccabees worked to rebuild the temple, only enough oil to light the menorah for one day was salvaged. Instead, the oil lasted eight days, allowing time to find more oil and giving the Jewish faith the Hanukkah miracle.
Today, the holiday is observed by lighting a candle on the menorah each evening of Hanukkah as a way to celebrate the victory of light over darkness.
Traditional foods such as latkes, or potato pancakes, and sufganiyot, which are jelly-filled doughnuts, are eaten. These foods are typically fried in oil, which signifies the oil that kept the menorah lit for eight days.
The eight days are spent with gatherings of friends and families participating in playing games and singing songs. Local events throughout the month offer a chance for families to attend Hanukkah celebrations.
The annual Hanukkah Family Festival is returning to the Westfield Valencia Town Center on Dec. 22 at 5 p.m. with children’s crafts, music, a children’s choir, hot latkes, dreidels, raffles and the lighting of the giant menorah by dignitaries. Everyone is welcome to attend, the event will be indoors at the JCPenney square.
The Westfield Valencia Town Center is located at 24201 W. Valencia Blvd. For more information, contact Chabad of SCV at 661-254-3434, Congregation of Beth Shalom at 661-254-2411 or Temple Beth Ami at 661-255-6410
Chabad of SCV
Children have the opportunity to experiment with custom-made candle molds in different shapes and colors to create their own unique candles at the Hanukkah Candle Workshop on Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Boys and Girls Club of Newhall. The event will also offer a gelt tournament for those who build one and would like to compete.
The Boys and Girls Club of Newhall is located at 24909 Newhall Ave.
A family bowling day will take place at Valencia Lanes on Dec. 23 at 3:30 p.m. Families are encouraged to come out and enjoy a game of bowling, hot latkes and doughnuts, and a bowling pin menorah lighting. Cost is $10 per person, which includes bowling, shoes and food.
Valencia Lanes is located at 23700 Lyons Ave.
A torah reading and Chinese lunch will be held at Chabad of SCV on Dec. 25 to celebrate the third day of Hanukkah. The torah reading will begin at 10:30 a.m. and a kosher Chinese lunch will be served at 11:30 p.m.
Chabad of SCV is located at 23120 Lyons Ave.
To RSVP for these events, contact Chabad of SCV at 661-254-3434.
Temple Beth Ami
Everyone is welcome to a Hanukkah party and storytime, scheduled to be held at Barnes & Noble Valencia on Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. Children will be able to celebrate and listen to stories about the history of Hanukkah.
Barnes & Noble Valencia is located at 23630 Valencia Blvd.
A Hanukkah and Shabbat celebration will be hosted by Temple Beth Ami on Dec. 27 at 7 p.m. Everyone is welcome to celebrate with socializing, food, entertainment and the lighting of a menorah.
Temple Beth Ami is located at 23023 Hilse Lane, Newhall.For more information on these events, contact Temple Beth Ami at 661-225-6410.