The Chabad of Southern Mississippi is inviting the public to its Community Menorah Lighting.
The lighting is 6 p.m. Thursday in Edgewater Mall, near the Belk entrance. Rabbi Akiva Hall invites the community to “come together to celebrate Hanukkah and light up Mississippi.”
In addition to lighting what the Chabad describes as “the largest menorah in Mississippi,” the event includes face painting, crafts for children and latkes and sufganiyot. Latkes are potato pancakes, and sufganiyot are Israeli jelly doughnuts. Participants also can decorate and fill their own sufganiyot.
Hanukkah started Dec. 24 and ends Jan. 1. It is the eight-day Jewish festival of light and is celebrated with a lighting of the menorah each night, prayers and fried foods. It celebrates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. In fact, the Hebrew spelling, Chanukah, means “dedication.”
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Hannukkah dates back to the second century B.C., when a group of Syrian-Greeks called the Seleucids controlled the Holy Land and tried to force the people of Israel to accept Greek culture and beliefs. Judah the Maccabee led a small band of faithful Jews in defeating the Greeks, one of the mightiest armies on Earth. The Temple was reclaimed and rededicated. Only a single cruse of uncontaminated olive oil remained to light the Temple’s menorah, but the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days, until the people could prepare more ritually pure oil for that purpose.