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Peekskill Celebrates the Start of Hanukkah

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- The Festival of Lights began Tuesday night with a joyful showing of faith in the City.

Members of the First Hebrew Congregation of Peekskill came to the downtown gazebo on North Division Street on the first night of Hanukkah to light the first candle of the menorah on display for the holiday season.

Rabbi Lee S. Paskind led a group of about 25 residents and officials in song and talked about what the holiday means to the Jewish people.

"This is not a big holiday as far as Jewish holidays go, but it's an important one because of what it stands for," Paskind said.

Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legend, Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in what was known as the Maccabean Revolt, named after leader Judah Maccabee.

Maccabee and the other Jews who took part in the rededication of the Second Temple witnessed what they believed to be a miracle. Though there was only enough oil to keep the menorah burning for a single day, the flames continued flickering for eight nights, giving them time to find a fresh supply.

Paskind said the congregation would be lighting another candle on the downtown menorah each night of Hanukkah.

"We light candles here every evening and people light one candle at their home every night, some people give a present every night for eight nights, they have traditional foods like latkes, which are potato pancakes," he said. "A lot of families have other particular customs or practices that they follow."

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