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Bentonville celebrates the start of Hanukkah with Menorah lighting

Family and friends gathered at the Chabad House in Bentonville to kick off the eight-day holiday with traditional Menorah lighting.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Hanukkah, also referred to as the "Festival of Lights," came early this year. The Jewish calendar follows the lunar calendar, so the eight-day holiday can fall any time between late November to mid-December. 

Despite being on the heels of the Thanksgiving holiday, it could not keep dozens from attending the Menorah lighting ceremony at the Chabad Jewish Center in Bentonville on Sunday, Nov. 28, evening.

The holiday dates back nearly 2,200 years and celebrates the miracle of one night's worth of oil burning, incredibly for eight days. The Maccabees. a group of Jewish rebels, defeated the Greek army to fight off oppression. 

Today, the candles of the Menorah represent hope and freedom in the form of continuous light for eight days.

Led by Rabbi Mendel Greisman, the Menorah at the Chabad House was lit to mark the beginning of the holiday.

"As soon as the sun sets," Greisman said. "We'll light the Hanukkah candles, sing some Hanukkah songs and celebrate the holiday."

Prior to the lighting ceremony, Greisman and his congregation celebrated the holiday with traditional latkes, doughnuts and dreidels.

"Since the Hanukkah miracle happened with oil, this is why we eat foods fried in oil," Greisman explained.

Dreidels were used during the Greek oppression as a way for Jewish people to learn about the Torah. Today, kids and adults gather together to play dreidels for chocolate gelt.

No matter how the holiday is celebrated one thing is certain, Hanukkah is a special time for family and friends to come together and celebrate a century's-old tradition. 

The joyous occasion lights a literal and figurative light into the darkness to spread hope and cheer.

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