Temple Israel’s Rabbi William Siemers and congregants assembled on the Peconic riverfront Wednesday evening under a light drizzle of rain and balmy temperatures for the annual menorah lighting.
In Hebrew, the word “hanukkah” means “dedication.” The holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.
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Jewish troops were determined to purify the temple by burning ritual oil in the temple’s menorah for eight days. But to their dismay, they discovered that there was only one day’s worth of oil left in the temple. They lit the menorah anyway and to their surprise, the small amount of oil lasted the full eight days. This is the miracle of the Hanukkah oil. The “Festival of Lights’ that is celebrated every year when Jews light a special menorah known as a hanukkiyah for eight days.
After the lighting on the riverfront it was back to Temple Israel for the young and old who feasted on potato latkes, made with both sweet potatoes and yellow potatoes, and jelly donuts. Because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is traditional to eat these fried foods.