Local Jewish groups are holding Hanukkah events

Published: Friday, Dec. 3 2010 7:03 p.m. MST

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is now under way through much of next week.

This Jewish holiday, also sometimes called Chanukah, is being celebrated locally by both Chabad Lubavitch of Utah and Congregation Kol Ami.

Chabad Lubavitch of Utah will hold its biggest Hanukkah event at the Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main, Sunday, Dec. 5, at 3 p.m.

There will be free ice skating from 3-5 p.m., with food for the evening to include latkes, draydel and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts).

Utah's largest indoor menorah lighting will take place in a heated room after the skating, at 5:15 p.m.

The event is open to the public.

Chabad Lubavitch is the largest Jewish organization in the world today with 3,300 institutions in 76 countries.

In conjunction with Hanukkah, Rabbi Benny Zippel of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah has emphasized this year the importance of the state celebrating the constitutional "freedom of religion," not a "freedom from religion."

Congregation Kol Ami, 2425 Heritage Way, is celebrating Hanukkah through Thursday, Dec. 9.

Some of its events include a Sisterhood Chanukah party on Sunday, Dec. 5, at 9:30 a.m., and a Community Chanukah Celebration on Monday, Dec. 6, 6-9 p.m.

The festival of Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C. after a small band of Maccabees were miraculously victorious over a vast Greek army.

Once rededicated, the Jews found only enough oil to light the temple's menorah for one day but it miraculously lasted for eight days.

Today, Jews the world over celebrate the eight-day festival of Hanukkah by lighting a menorah and adding a candle each night.

The Hanukkah lights are lit in the evenings preceding each of the eight days of Hanukkah. This year the celebration began on Dec. 1.

Here are some additional facts about Hanukkah:

Traditionally, Jews eat oily food to commemorate the miracle of the oil, such as sufganiyot and latkes.

While Judaism is generally celebrated at home or in a synagogue, in recent years there has been a push to take Hanukkah to the public, promoting its universal message of freedom.

Because of the difference in the Jewish and Gregorian calendars, Hanukkah is being held early this year.

The message of Hanukkah is freedom of religion and the power of light over darkness.

For more information on the celebration, contact Chabad Lubavitch of Utah at www.jewishutah.com or call 801-467-7777; or contact Congregation Kol Ami at www.conkolami.org or call 801-484-1501.

— Lynn Arave