The Chabad Jewish Center of Clark County hosted Thursday evening’s Hanukkah celebration in downtown Vancouver’s Esther Short Park. The event included a menorah-lighting ceremony.
Hanukkah is an eight-night festival that marks the victory of the Jewish Maccabees over the Greek-Syrian Seleucid Empire in the second century B.C. The empire, as the traditional story goes, conquered Israel, outlawed Judaism and ordered that a statue of Zeus be built at the temple of Jerusalem.
The Maccabees drove the Seleucids from Israel, and the Jews rededicated the temple. But they only had enough ritual oil to burn at the menorah for one night.
The oil, however, lasted eight days, a miracle that inspired the annual festival.
On each night, Jewish households light a candle on the eight-stemmed menorah, symbolizing the victory of light over darkness. A ninth candle called the shamash, or “helper,” lights other candles or serves as an additional beacon. The tradition is often accompanied by special blessings, songs and games.