A fully lit menorah.

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah, sometimes spelled Chanukah, is the Jewish Festival of Lights. This year it lasts from sundown on Thursday, December 7 to sundown on Friday, December 15. The holiday always begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev and lasts eight days.

The Story of Hanukkah

Jelly donut (also known as sufganiyot), dreidels, and candles for Hanukkah.
A jelly donut (sufganiyah), dreidels, and candles for Hanukkah.

The name Hanukkah comes from a Hebrew word meaning "to dedicate," and the holiday commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple when Jerusalem was retaken in the second century BCE during the Maccabean revolt.

To celebrate this event, a menorah (a nine-branched candelabrum) was lit. The menorah's supply of oil was expected to last only one day — yet, miraculously, the flames kept alive for eight days. Thus, Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting a menorah each evening over eight days: on each subsequent evening, one more candle is lit. It's also customary during Hanukkah to eat foods like latkes and doughnuts, to play games with a dreidel (a four-sided top), and to give and receive gifts.

Hanukkah in San Jose

Local Hanukkah events this year include:

SJPL Resources

San José Public Library has lots of books, movies, and music to help make Hanukkah even more festive!

Books, eBooks, and Printed Music

Hanukkah, book cover
The World's Most Popular Hanukkah Songs, book cover
Hanukkah: Festival of Lights and Wonderful Flavors, book cover
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, book cover
¡Es Hanukkah!, book cover
Hanukkah, book cover
Happy Hanukkah!, book cover
Hanukkah Cat, book cover
All About Hanukkah, book cover

DVDs and CDs

Love, Lights, Hanukkah!, book cover
Erran Baron Cohen Presents Songs in the Key of Hanukkah, book cover
A Jewish Celebration, book cover
Jacques Pepin's Chanukah Celebration, book cover