Hanukkah festivities mark beginning of holiday

Mike Warren lights the "first candle" of the menorah in 2004 at the Lubavitch Jewish Center Downtown Hanukkah Festival at the Downtown Community Plaza.

Sun file photo
Published: Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Beginning at sunset on Tuesday, Jewish families all over the world will begin their traditional celebrations of Hanukkah, the eight-day holiday that commemorates the physical and spiritual victory of the Jews over the Greeks more than 2,000 years ago.

The holiday is also known as Festival of Lights, since the flame in the Jerusalem Temple burned miraculously for eight days; and the Feast of Dedication, since the Temple was rededicated after being desecrated.

Families will partake in a slew of traditions, including the lighting of menorahs, gift exchanges, games and more.

"This is a time to celebrate the warmth in our interior homes, but externally, in the community as well," said Rabbi Berl Goldman, director of the Lubavitch Student and Community Center at UF. "It is a representation of religious freedom, the message of good overcoming evil ... a time to share the light."

The holiday ends Dec. 12 at sunset.

Here are some community events taking place around Gainesville to celebrate Hanukkah:

Hanukkah Factory: A family hands-on experience with menorah making, Hanukkah activity center, sand art, latke frying, dreidel games and more, 12:30-2:30 p.m.;and 2:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday, Lubavitch-Chabad Jewish Student and Community Center, 2021 NW 5th Ave. Cost: $6 per person; free for children ages 2 and younger. (336-5877)

Extreme Hanukkah Celebration and Concert: Performance by the Rick Recht Band, food and games, 3 p.m. Sunday, Congregation B'nai Israel, 3830 NW 16th Blvd. Tickets: $18 per family. (376-1508)

Menorah Lighting and Hanukkah Dinner: 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Congregation B'nai Israel, 3830 NW 16th Blvd. Tickets: $18 per family. (376-1508)

Giant Campus Can Menorah Lighting: More than 500 cans of food assembled to form the menorah will be donated to local homeless shelters and food pantries. The event includes live entertainment, hot latkes, dreidel kits, menorah lighting by special dignitaries and greetings from the university president and department deans, 3 p.m. Tuesday, UF, Turlington Plaza.

Lights for Life Giant Menorah Lighting: The event includes menorah lighting, hot latkes, dreidel kits, live entertainment and greetings from the mayor, city and county commissioners, 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Downtown Community Plaza. (336-5877)

Hanukkah Party: Havdalah service, menorah lighting by families, program, activities and door prizes, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Temple Shir Shalom, 3855 NW 8th Ave. RSVP. (332-1319)

Suzy Richardson can be reached at 374-5038 or Suzy.Richardson@ gvillesun.com.

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