Delaware’s Jewish community to light their menorahs

A menorah lit at Congregation Beth Emeth in Wilmington. (Submitted photo/Kim vonWeltin)

DOVER — According to several different estimates, 7 million Americans (about 18,000 Delawareans) identify as Jewish.

Tuesday evening practicing Jews in the state will be lighting their menorahs in honor of Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah), the Festival of Lights.

The holiday is a celebration of Jewish freedom, particularly religious freedom that dates back thousands of years.

The holiday celebrates the Jews’ victory over the Syrians around 165 B.C. After gaining the right to practice their faith, the victors lit a menorah in the Second Temple. Although there was only enough oil to burn for one day, the story goes, the fire kept burning for eight days.

Hanukkah starts on the 25th of Kislev, the ninth Jewish month. In the Gregorian calendar, that’s anytime between the end of November and the end of December. This year, it begins Tuesday and ends Dec. 20.

Although often compared, Hanukkah and Christmas are completely unrelated. In fact, the last time the first day of Hanukkah fell on Christmas Eve was 1978, although the holiday started on Christmas Day in 2005.

Here are some local events observing the holiday:

• Seaside Jewish Community Hanukkah Night

Will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Fork and Flask at Nage — 19730 Coastal Hwy in Rehoboth Beach

Seaside Jewish Community invites guests for the first day of Hanukkah whether they’re familiar with Jewish culture or not. Matzo Ball Soup and Latkes are just a few of the menu items guests can expect. There will also be a donut eating competition, crafts and candle making activities for children.

• ‘Hannukutz’ Community Celebration

Celebration starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at The Kutz Home — 704 River Road in Wilmington, 764-7000

Latkes from Congregation Beth Sholom, singing by Congregation Beth Emeth’s choir and jelly donuts from the Jewish Federation of Delaware

• Chanukah Family Fun Festival

Festival starts at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Chabad Lubavitch of Delaware — 1811 Silverside Road in Wilmington, 529-9900

The public menorah lighting begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be followed by a Chinese dinner and a performance by America’s Got Talent finalist David Darwin. Entry is $25 for adults and $15 for children. Visit to RSVP (separate teen parties and events also available at website)

Matt Bittle contributed to this report.

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