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chanukah

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When Judah Maccabee and his band of freedom fighters entered the Temple in Jerusalem after a hard-fought war, they were distraught to find that three years of Syrian occupation had turned the holy place into a pagan site. They cleansed the Temple and rededicated it (in Hebrew, Chanukat Habayit) on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, 165 BCE. Although the war to free the land of Judea from Syrian/Greek rule lasted many more years, we joyously commemorate Chanukah based on the regaining of our Temple. Years later, the Rabbis of the Talmud revealed the famous miracle story about the small jug of oil that provided the Temple with enough fuel for 8 days. Chanukah is celebrated by lighting the hanukkiyah (Chanukah menorah), playing dreidle (a top), eating latkes (potato pancakes) and  giving children gelt (money).