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Hanukkah in Houston

Monday, 19 December, 2011 - 1:57 pm

Hanukkah in Houston
SOURCE: Chron.com


The Jewish festival of Hanukkah (Chanukah) begins at sunset on Tuesday and continues for seven more nights. Following the Jewish victory over the Syrian Greeks, Hanukkah is celebrated to honor the rededication of the holy temple in Jerusalem.  After a period of desecration, the Jews lighted the temple’s menorah, but only found enough oil to last one day. Miraculously, the flame burned for eight days.

“The Holiday of Chanukah contains a universal message for people of all faiths. Namely, that good will ultimately triumph over evil, freedom over oppression, and light over darkness,” said Rabbi Moishe Traxler, director of Chabad Outreach of Houston. “The Chanukah Menorah teaches us yet another message—just as we kindle an additional candle each night of the holiday, so too must we perform additional acts of kindness and goodness. We must not be satisfied with the goodness performed yesterday.”

To celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with the same spirit, festive events are planned across Houston beginning with the Menorah Lighting at the Galleria on Tuesday.

Standing 12 feet high, the exquisite menorah is handcrafted by a local artist Isaac Cohen. Made entirely out of steel materials, the menorah gracefully extends upwards in the shape of the famous Magen Shlomo – Shield of Solomon.

The menorah will be lighted for the first time ever at 5 p.m. Tuesday near the fountain between Macys and Nordstrom. The program will feature addresses by prominent citizens and dignitaries, a children’s choir, and a short presentation. Chanukah treats will be served to the crowd and there will be special Chanukah gifts for children.

Then at 7 p.m., the Menorah Mobile Parade will leave the Galleria area from Turnberry Tower  at 5048 Hidalgo St. and travel to the Chanukah Wonderland at Memorial City Mall. The Wonderland will feature a 7 foot tall ice menorah, music, arts, crafts, candle making, olive press, singing, dancing, dreidels, and prizes.

Every community has its unique Hanukkah traditions, but some traditions such as lighting the menorah, spinning the dreidel, and eating fried foods are universally practiced.

The lighting of the menorah celebrates the miracle of the Hanukkah oil. One candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah, two on the second, and so on, until eight candles are lit.

Another common tradition involves spinning the dreidel, a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. Children usually play this game for a pot of gelt, which are chocolate coins covered in gold tin foil.

Adding on to the holiday calories, Hanukkah is yet another excuse to eat fried foods. Since Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is customary to eat fried foods such as latkes and sufganiyot during the holiday. Latkes are pancakes made out of potatoes and onions fried in oil and served with applesauce. Sufganiyot are fried jelly-filled donuts dusted with powder sugar.

Local events are planned throughout the week to celebrate various Hanukkah traditions. For more information on Hanukkah events, visit the Chabad Outreach of Houston.


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