Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights

Jews lit the first Hanukkah candle, or Festival of Lights, on Thursday. It is a festival that celebrates the inauguration of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the Jewish people’s achievement of freedom of worship after the popular revolt of Judah Maccabeus and his brothers against the Seleucid kings who imposed cruel measures on the Jews, contradictory to their religion. Such measures included the banning of the Sabbath and the requirement to eat pork.

Although unofficial in Israel and not mentioned in the Torah, unlike Yom Kippur for example, this holiday is of great importance to Jews around the world. Indeed, it is on this occasion that they light the eight-candle menorah candles, one candle each evening, and then recite special prayers until all the candles are lit on the eighth night.

Jews are particularly careful to place the menorah in a place where it can be seen from the outside, often near windows. On this occasion, traditional dishes are prepared, such as fried cakes, pancakes, and fried potatoes, in addition to the donuts and maâkouda for Moroccan Jews. These are dishes they share with their Muslim neighbors and friends.

Hanukkah is an opportunity for Jews to encourage their children to study Torah, and to give them money and gifts. It is an occasion of joy for Jews, where they gather to prepare traditional food, pray together and listen to lessons from the rabbis. However, this year’s celebration coincides with the Coronavirus crisis, which will be reflected in the rituals that will be organized in full respect of the preventive measures against Covid-19.

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