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Southland Jews To Celebrate Beginning Of Hanukkah

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(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Jews across the Southland will begin lighting candles at sundown Wednesday to mark the first night of Hanukkah, the eight-day “Festival of Lights” commemorating the Maccabees’ victory over a larger Syrian army in 165 B.C.

Hanukkah, which means dedication in Hebrew, is observed around the world by lighting candles on a menorah each day at sundown for eight days.

“Hanukkah has blossomed into a major Jewish festival and a de rigueur feature on America’s civic, religious, educational and business calendars,” Rabbi Mark S. Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, wrote in his Hanukkah message to the region’s Jewish community.

“When we light candles for the last night of Hanukkah, let’s recall miracles in days long ago and let’s reflect on the modern-day miracles of the little holiday that could (and did) make it big in 21st century America,” he said.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is scheduled to participate in the lighting of two menorahs Wednesday. The first will be at noon at City Hall during an event organized by Chabad of California for the 25th consecutive year.

Villaraigosa is also scheduled to participate in Chabad of the Valley’s ninth annual Chanukah Festival at Universal CityWalk, which will run from 5 to 9 p.m. It is billed by organizers as the West Coast’s largest Hanukkah event. A 15-foot, 1,000-pound menorah will be lit at 7 p.m.

“Hanukkah is a chance for Jews worldwide to celebrate the miracles of the Macabee victory, the oil that lasted longer than expected and of one of history’s greatest triumphs over persecution, prejudice and oppression,” Villaraigosa said.

“As we light the menorah, we ignite the memories of a victorious past and brighten the promise for a more hopeful future. This festival of lights and happiness gives each one of us the opportunity to enjoy the company of family and friends while commemorating heroic sacrifices,” he said.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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