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.
Hanukkah celebrations started this week at Temple Beth El, with the temple's Sisterhood Chanukah Gift Shop open in the Sanctuary Social Hall. The temple will also host a Latkefest for youth from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 9, and a Chanukah dinner, hosted by the temple Membership Committee, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 14.
Residents are invited to join the Chabad of Southern Somerset County's Rabbi Shmaya Krinsky at a Menorah lighting at 4 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Peter J. Biondi Municipal Building—which will also feature the "Mad Science Chanukah" program, with hot latkes, a Mad Science presentation and "Chanukah Fire and Ice Show." Admission to the "Mad Science Chanukah" program is $10, and participants should register by Dec. 5 on the Chabad's website.
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.
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.
TELL US: If you observe Hanukkah, what are your plans?