Hanukkah -The Festival of Lights Begins

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On Wednesday, Jews around the world began celebrating the holiday of Hanukkah - the Festival of Lights.

It commemorates an eight-day miracle that took place during the rededication of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in 164 B.C.

At that time, Greece ruled Israel and had forbidden Judaism to be practiced. Weary of the religious oppression, a group of Jewish rebels named the Maccebees rose up and overthrew the Greeks.

When the Jewish people rededicated their temple, they only had enough oil to light the candle for one day. According to historical accounts, the oil burned for eight days.

Lights used during the celebration are either candles or oil lamps, and electric lights are also permitted where an open flame is not allowed. The lights are lit in the dusk, when the sun is down and placed at the door step or near the windows for easy visibility, as a reminder of the holiday miracle.

Hanukkah translates to "rededication," but to many Jews the lighting of the candles celebrates freedom.

In Washington, D.C., the celebration was kicked off Wednesday night with the lighting of the first candle of the Menorah on the National Mall.

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