How the Saskatoon Jewish community is celebrating Hanukkah

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Sunday marked the first day of Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights.

The eight day holiday celebrates the victory of a small Jewish army called the Maccabees and how they defeated a Syrian army that ruled over Jerusalem.

"It's a time that we think about what it means to be a Jew, when we dedicate ourselves to our faith. Hanukkah actually means dedication or rededication and spread the message of religious freedom," said Rabbi Raphael Kats, with the Chabad Jewish Centre in Saskatoon.

To celebrate that religious freedom, 25 menorah-topped cars at Meadows Market paraded though the city, travelling along 8th Street to the farmers market to light a grand menorah.

"It's important to show that you don't have to hide your faith, especially when there's haters around, there's anti-Semitism around, it's very important for the Jewish community to know that they can celebrate freely and openly," Kats said.

Menorahs, oily food and dreidels are some of the symbols that represent the holiday. The oily foods symbolize a small amount of oil that miraculously burned for eight days instead of one when the Jews rededicated a temple over 2,000 years ago.

A SENSE OF COMMUNITY

Hanukkah has a special meaning for Lauren Kronick who moved to Saskatoon from Toronto almost three years ago. Kronick says it’s the first time they're celebrating the holiday in person since living here.

"It's extra special to be in the same room with people who share your culture and religion and you can celebrate together," Kronick said.

Kronick says the sense of belonging they've gained in the Jewish community is something Hanukkah is all about.

'It's amazing to be in a room full of Jewish community members that I don't know and [have] it feel like home. It's like a home away from home since I'm not with my family right now."

For each day of Hanukkah, a new candle will be lit on the menorah until Dec. 6.