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Local Jews celebrate Hanukkah

Special holiday focuses on rededication

Posted: December 22, 2008 9:12 p.m.
Updated: December 23, 2008 4:30 a.m.

Santa Clarita's new mayor, Frank Ferry, lights the menorah at the Westfield Valencia Town Center Monday night. The Chanukah event included singing, food and blinking balloons for the kids.

Temple Beth Ami rabbi Mark Blazer said Hanukkah is a great opportunity to celebrate the Jewish heritage with family and friends.

Beginning on the 25th day of Jewish calendar month of Tevet, this year's Hanukkah overlaps with Christmas and began at sundown Sunday with the lighting of a menorah in Stevenson Ranch.

Often known as a Jewish holiday that celebrates God's miraculous provision of eight days of candle oil meant for only one day, Blazer said the holiday is actually centered on rededication.

A Union for Reform Web site said Hanukkah, meaning "dedication" in Hebrew, refers to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Macabees over the armies of Syria in 165 BCE and the subsequent liberation and "rededication" of the Temple in Jerusalem.

"Rededication is the theme for the holiday," Blazer said. "It reminds us to rededicate ourselves to the important things in our lives."

Blazer said participants light one candle a night so on the eighth night the menorah is fully lighted.
"The eight days the oil lasted allowed the Jews to cleanse the temple and repress another stock of oil (from olives) for the original menorah," he said.

Santa Clarita Hanukkah celebrations are planned all week and peak Friday with a special Shabat service when Blazer will announce 2008's synagogue volunteer of the year.

"We have a lot of stuff going on. We have really special things almost every night," Blazer said.

Local Jewish leaders will host a children's story time at 7 p.m. today at Barnes & Noble and a Panda Express fund-raiser Wednesday.

Finding a restaurant open on Dec. 25 is often difficult, he said.

"Eating Chinese food on Christmas night is becoming a Jewish tradition," Blazer said.

But this Chinese dinner is special as 20 percent of the evening's Temple Beth Ami proceeds will go to the synagogue.


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