This year, Hanukkah (which can also be spelled Chanukah, and Hanukah) begins tonight, on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 8, and ends a week later on Sunday, Dec. 16.
According to Chabad.org, Hanukkah starts on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev and lasts for eight days. For those of us who aren't attuned to the Jewish calendar, that translates to sundown on Saturday, Dec. 8.
Here are a sampling of Hanukkah (and pre-Hanukkah) events taking place nearby:
- Chabad of the Farmington Valley: Menorah lighting on the green in Farmington center Monday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m., with daily lightings in the Farmington Valley towns. A Grand Chanukah Party will be held at the Chabad of the Farmington Valley, 141 Hopmeadow St., Weatogue, on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 5 p.m. with music, a hot meal and entertainment for the family.
- Chabad House of Greater Hartford: "Chanukah on Ice," Sunday, Dec. 9, 4 p.m., at Blue Back Square. Call (860) 232-1116 for Chanukah celebrations in surrounding areas.
- Mandell JCC: Daily Chanukah candlelighting, Dec. 8-15, 4 p.m., Chase Family Gallery at the Mandell JCC; Edible Dreidels and Chanukah Crafts, Monday, Dec. 10, 4-6 p.m., Chase Family Gallery at the Mandell JCC; Latke Throwdown, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 4-6 p.m., Mandell JCC; Fifth Night Chanukah Paty, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 5:30 p.m., Mandell JCC; Chanukah PJ Library Storytimes, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 10:30 a.m., The Toy Chest, 975 Farmington Avenue, and Thursday, Dec. 13, 4 p.m., Chase Family Gallery at the Mandell JCC. The Mandell JCC is located at 335 Bloomfield Avenue. Call (860) 236-4571 for more information.
- Solomon Schechter Day School: Annual Chanukah Bash, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 6-8 p.m., West Hartford Town Hall, featuring the band "Poor Old Shine." Call for tickets, which are limited, 860-561-0700.
- Beth David Synagogue: Concert with Jewish a cappella group Six 13, co-sponsored by local Jewish day schools, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2 p.m., 20 Dover Road. Call (860) 236-1241.
- Beth El Temple: Orchestra concert celebrating Chanukah with Cantor Netanel Herstik of the Hampton Synagogue and Cantor Joseph Ness and the Beth El Orchestra; pre-concert dinner, 5:30 p.m.; menorah lighting followed by concert, 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 9, 2626 Albany Avenue. Call (860) 233-9696 for ticket information.
- The Emanuel Synagogue: Chanukah dinner, Friday, Dec. 14, services followed by dinner at 6 p.m. 160 Mohegan Drive. Call (860) 233-3574 for reservations; Chanukah carnival, Sunday, Dec. 9, 10 a.m.-noon, at 160 Mohegan Drive; Chanukah celebration for young families, "Latkes and Lollipops," Saturday, Dec. 15, 4:15- 7 p.m., includes dinner and dedication of the Early Childhood Center, RSVP: (860) 233-2774.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, commemorates the story of the Maccabean Revolt against Syrian rulers in present day Israel 2,300 years ago. The Maccabees wanted to rededicate Jerusalem's main temple but had only enough oil to kindle the Eternal Light for one day. The oil lasted for eight days, according to the story, and the holiday of Hanukkah was born.
Today, Jews generally celebrate by gathering together with family, lighting one candle on the menorah each of the eight nights, playing dreidel and eating special holiday foods such as potato latkes and babka.
TELL US: If you observe Hanukkah, what are your plans?