(WKBN) — This year, Hanukkah begins at sundown on Sunday. What makes this eight-day celebration full of festive family gatherings significant is the story behind it.
Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration commemorating the Maccabean Revolt — a time when the Jewish people rose up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors.
Bonnie Deutsch Burdman is the executive director of community relations and government affairs for the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation.
“It recognizes literally the first moment in recorded history where an oppressed religious minority fought back against their oppressors and were miraculously able to break free and practice their faith,” Deutsch Burdman said.
During the eight days of celebration, a candle is lit each night on the Hanukkah menorah. The light of the menorah may symbolize an eternal flame.
“We have a very significant Jewish population in Youngstown, we are very proud of the footprint we have here in the Mahoning Valley,” Deutsch Burdman said.
This year’s Hanukkah celebration is tied with a national movement called Shine a Light on Anti-Semitism.
“The horrific uptick in anti-Semitic activities in the public sphere against individuals: We are seeing it online, we are seeing it everywhere. This is a time where the Jewish community is opening their doors to everyone,” Deutsch Burdman said.
Some traditions this year will remain the same.
“We eat foods that are fried in oils, we eat potato pancakes, potato latkas — as I mentioned before — jelly donuts because donuts are fried, we spin the dradle, which is a little top,” Deutsch Burdman said.
Throughout the community, there will be many communal Hanukkah celebrations.
The Jewish Community Center will hold a “Hanukkah on Ice” celebration on Dec. 22.