Singing, dancing and a bit of standup comedy will mark the third night of Hanukkah in Riverside, when the Chabad Jewish Community Center will hold its 12th annual Hanukkah Festival.

Rabbi Shmuel Fuss. Photo via shmais.com
The public celebration is set to get under way at 6 p.m. Monday on the steps of the Riverside Historic Courthouse.

Rabbi Shmuel Fuss, director of Chabad, said several hundred people are expected, including a number of local officials.

Fuss described the message of the eight-day holiday as one of “triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness.”

One of the event’s highlights will be the lighting of a 12-foot menorah, positioned in front of the century-old courthouse at 4050 Main St.

Fuss, who is known for comedic parables, will speak and invite dignitaries to join him in a song and dance before the candle-lighting.

There will be traditional foods sold on-site, as well as arts and crafts, and the Moshav Band will be on hand to provide musical entertainment.

Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabees’ victory over a larger Syrian army in 165 B.C.

Once the Jews defeated the Hellenist forces of Antiochus IV at the end of a three-year rebellion, the temple in Jerusalem, which the occupiers had dedicated to the worship of Zeus, was re-dedicated in God’s honor by Judah Maccabee, who led the insurgency begun by his father, the high priest Mattathias.

According to the story of Hanukkah, Maccabee and his soldiers wanted to light the temple’s ceremonial lamp with ritually pure olive oil as part of their re-dedication but found only enough oil to burn for one day. The oil, however, burned for eight days in what was viewed as a miracle.

Hanukkah — which means dedication in Hebrew — is observed around the world by lighting candles in a special menorah called a Hanukkah each day at sundown. The reason for the lights is so passers-by should see them and be reminded of the holiday’s miracle.

— City News Service

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