A festival of giving
What do you know about Hanukkah?
It's a big deal in Israel and for the first time the eight-day Jewish festival is being opened up to the public in Albert Park.
The Jewish community and the Israeli Embassy are hosting the free Hanukkah event in the park on Sunday.
Auckland Hebrew Congregation and Kadimah School youth leader Yair Jablinowitz says the symbolism of the festival is universal.
At its heart is the belief that one good deed encourages another, Mr Jablinowitz, 24, says.
The Freemans Bay resident is originally from Jerusalem but came here a year ago with his wife Shifra.
They are representatives of the Jewish Agency of Israel and a world youth movement organisation called the Bnei Akiva.
Hanukkah is celebrated each year in December and dates back to the second century BC when the Greeks invaded Israel.
A miracle is believed to have occurred during the battle to rededicate the Temple of Jerusalem when a small amount of oil, expected to last no more than a day, burned for eight.
Families celebrate the miracle each night during the festival by gathering together and lighting another candle on the candelabra known as a menorah.
The menorah used at Hanukkah has nine candle holders, one of which is a different height and is used to light the others.
The date of Hanukkah is based on the lunar cycle and this year it started on November 27 and will end on December 5.
The point of the holiday and Judaism in general is to try to give to the world, Mr Jablinowitz says.
"If you light one candle and then another, they give to each other without losing anything.
"So Hanukkah is really all about spreading the light to the world and uniting as many people as possible."
People at Albert Park on Sunday can watch as Auckland's tallest menorah is lit.
The Truppmann Brothers will also be performing traditional klezmer music and there will be arts and crafts, stories and other activities for children.
Ima Bistro will be there serving up authentic Israeli and Mediterranean food and people will be able to sample jelly donuts known as sufganiyot.
The donuts start to appear in the shops in Israel about six weeks before Hanukkah begins and are hugely popular.
Children even try to set new records for the amount they can eat over the eight days.
Hanukkah in the Park will take place in the bandstand area of Albert Park from 6pm to 8:30pm on December 1.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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