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What is Hanukkah and how is it celebrated?

Evening of Wednesday , December 25, 2024 – Thursday, January 2, 2024

Hanukkah is known as the Festival Of Lights. The word Hanukkah actually means “dedication” in Hebrew as the biblical holiday celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple of Jerusalem that was reclaimed by the Maccabees. Hanukkah commemorates the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days, allowing the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The story of Hanukkah, as recounted in the Talmud, symbolizes resilience, faith, and the triumph of light over darkness. It’s a time of reflection on the historical struggles of the Jewish people and a celebration of religious freedom. To celebrate the ancient miracle of the oil burning a candle for eight nights, Jews celebrating Hanukkah light a candleholder called a menorah for eight nights. The menorah holds nine candles—one for each night plus a candle called the shamash used to light the other candles.

The Shamash, the eternal light in the Temple Menorah never went out. Miraculously, it burned continually, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, year after year. Jewish history records that the year that Jesus was crucified, the candles could no longer be lit in the Temple. The eternal light went out. They had to keep lighting it and lighting it and lighting it. Then the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Jewish teaching reveals that every human being has a divine call by God to be a Shamash. That is why Jesus said, “As My Father sent Me to bring you light, now I send you. You are the Shamash.” You and I are the light of the world. Light can only come when someone else brings light to it. Every candle must be lit by another flame.

The Temple Menorah was only lit during the day, and the Hanukkah Menorah was only at night. It’s a reminder that God is waiting for you and me to be light to someone else. As we shine the light to the world around us, darkness flees. Have you wondered why when we celebrate, we turn off the lights, and then the flame of one light spreads to one at a time, candle by candle to the next person. The darkness is pushed back all around us. The enemy is defeated. The supernatural presence and power of God is all around us. 

hanukkah Resources