Jews from the Quad Cities and all around the world will be celebrating Hanukkah beginning at sundown Sunday, November 28, and ending at sundown Monday, December 6.

While Hanukkah generally falls around the dates of Christmas and other holidays, Allan Ross, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities, said that despite popular belief, Hanukkah is not the “Jewish Christmas.” “It’s a holiday, not a holy day,” Ross said. “Really the holiest day is Yom Kippur which falls after Rosh Hashanah, and Passover are the major holidays.”

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jews fought and regained their independence from the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C,E. To rededicate the temple, they needed oil to light the menorah, but they could only find enough to keep the flames burning for one night. However, the oil lasted for eight days. In that time, they were able to make more oil and keep the eternal flame lit. According to Ross, Hanukkah is a celebration of freedom, religious freedom. In honor of that miracle of Hanukkah, a menorah is lit nightly in observations.

While Hanukkah is not the “Jewish Christmas,” and Ross said the tradition is that one might get presents for eight days, there’s still plenty of fun. Ross said the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities gives back by having a party for kids in the community, serving the traditional Hanukkah food like potato latkes, doughnuts and a meal. Ross also said that a major focus is the seniors. Jenny Kitsis of the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities will be bringing special Hanukkah gifts and sweets, locally-sourced whenever possible, to the seniors of the community. “We’ll bring gifts to our seniors who are homebound,” Ross said. “If they need a menorah or candles, we’ll provide that.” Ross said.

The mission of the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities is to address a broad range of needs to include cultural, religious, educational, family welfare, care of the aged and interfaith relations. The Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities combats hate and anti-Semitism by supporting religious liberty and civil rights for everyone.

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