LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Hanukkah officially began Sunday night, and the Jewish festival of lights is being observed with lots of celebrations across the valley.
The holiday will continue through the night of Dec. 26.
Nonprofit Jewish Nevada and its CEO Stefanie Tuzman helped 8 News Now understand more of the meaning behind the holiday.
“Hanukkah is all about celebrating miracles,” Tuzman said. “The story of Hanukkah is about the small but mighty Maccabeean army fighting off much larger forces to restate the claim of the holy temple in Jerusalem, and when they got back the temple, they were lighting a menorah… and they had enough oil to last one day but the miracle of Hanukkah says it lasted for eight days.”
The holiday is a celebration of miracles as well of friends, family and community.
“It’s all about being with family, friends, celebrating, it’s a wonderful time for celebration and joy, there’s lots of stuff happening throughout our community all week to celebrate,” Tuzman said.
She also walked us through the lighting of the Menorah and the traditions practiced during the act.
“Hanukkah is celebrated over eight days, so each of the days we light the menorah in recognition of those eight nights,” she said. “So when you put the candles in, you put them in from right to left but you light them from left to right. The middle candle, usually the tallest one, is called the Shamash, or the helper, and you light this one first… there’s a couple of blessings that you say.”
She added that food eaten over the eight-day celebration is one of the best parts of the holiday, filled with delicious treats like jelly donuts and potato pancakes.
“Because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days, we eat a lot of food fried in oil,” Tuzman said.
Jewish Nevada will be hosting a menorah lighting at 4 p.m. on Wednesday in Downtown Summerlin. For more information about the organization, the holiday, and a list of its community events, visit this link.