The Chabad Jewish Community Center of Riverside’s annual Chanukah Festival returned to the steps of the Riverside Historic Courthouse Monday evening, featuring a menorah lighting, singing, dancing and other activities.

“For me, and millions others, Hanukkah is a time for families and friends to gather and celebrate our history and heritage,” Rabbi Shmuel Fuss said before the event.

“But the soul of Hanukkah runs much deeper. It represents the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and hope over despair.”

The celebration featured the lighting of a grand menorah.

Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabees’ victory over a larger Syrian army in 165 B.C. Once the Jews defeated the Hellenist forces 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.

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 embraced as a miracle.

Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, is observed around the world by lighting candles at sundown for eight nights.

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