Today marks the beginning on the Jewish Festival of Lights, Hannukah. Also known as Chanukah which means dedication, the yearly celebration is to commemorate the miracles of Judah the Maccabee and the cruse of olive oil that supplied light for eight days. The eight day festival is celebrated with nightly menorah lightings, feasts and special prayers.
The menorah holds nine flames, one of which is the shamash. Tonight Jewish families will light the first flame and then tomorrow they will light the second. In eight days all lights will be alight. One is lit in every household and usually exposed to the world by being put in a window.
When the menorah is lit each day, families recite the Hallel prayer and perform grace after every meals. The prayers focus on thanking God for righteousness.
Since olive oil is one of the miracles celebrated during Hannukah, families will eat lots of fried food. Most meals consist of the potato pancake with apple sauce and sour cream known as Iatke, and a jam filled doughnut called sufganya.