Rabbi Avremi Zippel and his 7-year-old son Immanuel joined us to share the background of Hanukkah. The Festival of Lights celebrates the rededication of the Jewish Holy Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BCE after a small band of Maccabees were miraculously victorious over a vast Syrian-Greek army. Once they rededicated the Temple, the Jews found only enough pure oil to light the Temple’s menorah candelabra for one day, but it miraculously lasted for eight days.
 
Today, Jews the world over celebrate Hanukkah by lighting a menorah and adding a candle each night for eight nights. In 1973, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, the most influential rabbi in modern history, launched the Hanukkah awareness campaign which brought the holiday to the public and made it part of the mainstream holiday season in the United States. There are thousands of public menorah lightings and Hanukkah events around the world. Many of these international and local events, including those in your area, can be found in the world’s largest directory of Hanukkah celebrations at Hanukkah.org.
 
This year’s celebrations bring added significance as Jewish communities worldwide mark the year of Hakhel, the Jewish Year of Gathering, a once-every-seven-year effort to organize and host Jewish gatherings focused on unity, Torah learning and practice.

A particularly resonant Hannukah message this year will be a teaching of the Rebbe, who taught that the menorah shows that even a little light can dispel much darkness. As antisemitic incidents have seen a recent surge coupled with the explicit embrace of these hateful sentiments by leading figures with massive platforms, Jewish communities around the world are more determined than ever to show that the only appropriate way to respond is not by caving in fear, but instead participating in their communities with proud displays of Jewish pride.