Accessibility links

Breaking News

Hannukah: Jewish Festival of Lights Begins

FILE - Rabbis install a giant Hanukkah Menorah at the launch of the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights, named Hanukkah, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.

Jews around the world have begun celebrating Hanukkah, an eight-day festival that commemorates ancient miracles and symbolizes triumph over oppression.

The holiday began after sundown Sunday with families gathering to light the first nightly candle of a ceremonial candelabra and to exchange gifts.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended an annual ceremony at the Western Wall in the OId City area of Jerusalem, the holiest site where Jews can pray.

U.S. President Barack Obama issued his annual Hanukkah greeting:

"Tonight, Jews in America, Israel and around the world come together to light the first candle of the Festival of Light,” said Obama. "At its heart, Hanukkah is about the struggle for justice in the face of overwhelming obstacles. It's a chance to reflect on the triumph of liberty over tyranny, the rejection of persecution, and on the miracles that can happen even in our darkest hours."

The American Friends of Lubavitch lit the National Menorah in Washington, D.C., lighting up the sky over the National Mall.

The menorah is the traditional candelabra used to celebrate the holiday that commemorates the second century BC victory of Judah Maccabee and his followers in a revolt in ancient Judea against armies of the Seleucid empire.