The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after a successful battle won by Judah Maccabee against the Greek and Syrian armies around 165 B.C.
During the time of rededication, miraculously, a single day's supply of oil burned for eight days. Today the Hanukkah menorah has nine branches and commemorates that event as each of the eight candles are lit every day of the holiday and the ninth candle, called the shamash is used to light each of them.
Already a holiday that brought Jewish families together for prayer, music, singing, games, gift-giving and traditional foods, Hanukkah–since the winter holiday usually falls near Christmas–a Stanford University survey found that American Jews observe it more adamently than in Israel to preserve the traditions and significance of Hanukkah.
Spinning the dreidel and eating fried foods like latkes, or potato pancakes, and jelly-filled donuts are traditional family and community activities in addition to lighting the menorah. has become more commonplace too.
The dreidel, a top, has four sides with Hebrew letters that together mean, "a great miracle happened there."
Locally, several synagogues, temples and organizations will host Hanukkah events.
- Chabad of the Tri-Valley will host the 7th annual "Chanukah Wonderland" at the from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Dec. 20 on the first night of the Jewish holy days. For more information, visit www.JewishTriValley.com.
- Chanuka Pot Luck and Chanukah Party/Service Led by Diana Zankowsky and Sara Lamnin on Dec. 23 at . The potluck begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by a short service. Bring your favorite Chanukah menorah and candles for the group candle lighting. This is the fourth night of Chanukah.
- The Festival of Lights Community Hanukkah Party at the in Palo Alto is open to everyone. It takes place on Dec. 21 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. www.paloaltojcc.org. Here, families will experience the traditional dreidel games, jelly donuts, singing, praying, and of course, candle-lighting. There is no charge for this event.
- The Temple Beth Torah at 42000 Paseo Padre Parkway in Fremont will hold a Shabbat and Chanukah Service at 7 p.m. on Dec. 23. Attendees are asked to bring five candles and dinner will follow the service. For more information, visit www.bethtorah-fremont.org.
- Palo Alto's Jewish Study Network invites the community to a Hanukkah Party that includes a class on Hanukkah and afterward with jelly donuts, live music and Chinese Food. On Dec. 24 starting at 8 p.m. Adults $10, children under 10, $8.