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The eightday festival of the Dedication of the Temple, Hanukkah, commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE, when the Maccabeans defeated the Seleucids, removed the heathen altar erected in the Jewish Temple, and restored Jewish worship. According to Talmudic teaching, the tiny amount of consecrated oil found in the lamp (the Eternal Light, or Ner Tamid) before the Ark miraculously succeeded in maintaining a flame for eight days.
Hanukkah thus became the Jewish festival of lights. The eightbranched candelabra with its special ninth branch is the symbol of the festival. For eight days, an additional candle is lit each evening until finally all are alight. Hanukkah is celebrated in the home. Originally candles were lit only in homes, but later they were lit in the synagogue also. Traditionally dishes cooked in oil such as potatocakes and doughnuts are eaten, special Hanukkah songs are sung, and games are played with a spinner, or dreidl (Hebrew: sevivon).

© Jüd. Museum Frankfurt 1992-2002 /  Sources