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Congregation Plans Hanukkah Celebrations

Hanukkah Menorah

Hanukkah Menorah

Hanukkah, the Jewish “Festival of Lights,” begins this year at sundown on Tuesday, December 20th. Like Jews all over the world, the families of Congregation Etz Chaim will mark the beginning of the eight-day holiday by lighting the first candle that evening.

At 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 23rd, a special family service at the synagogue will be held to welcome the Sabbath and Hanukkah. Rabbi Steven M. Bob will tell the children a story about the meaning of the holiday.

“Hanukkah is the only major Jewish holiday that is has no basis in the Bible,” comments Rabbi Bob, “but it has become one of the most beloved holidays on the Jewish calendar.”

The festival commemorates the rededication and repurification of the Temple in Jerusalem after it had been defiled by foreign rulers, more than two thousand years ago. A single vial of oil for the Temple lamp, enough for only one day, unaccountably burned for all eight days of the rededication celebrations.

During Hanukkah, it is customary to eat latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts). “These foods are fried in oil,” explains Rabbi Bob, “a reminder of the oil that miraculously burned for eight days.”

The visible symbol of the holiday is the special eight-branched candelabrum, called a menorah or Hanukkiyah. Jewish families gather each evening to light one additional candle, until all eight are burning on the eighth night.

Congregation Etz Chaim, the only Reform synagogue in DuPage County, is located at 1710 S. Highland Avenue in Lombard. For more information, call 630-627-3912 or visit

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