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Hanukkah Celebrated Early in Scarsdale

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Hanukkah came a little early Friday morning to the Scarsdale Synagogue/Temples Emanu – El and Tremont.

Students of the Synagogue's nursery school, Mazel Tots, sang holiday songs and then shared a lunch of holiday food, including donuts and potato latkes.

"The traditional foods we eat for Hanukkah are foods fried in oil," said school Assistant Director Jocelyn Gross. "Those foods commemorate the celebration where there was only enough oil for one night but the oil lasted for eight nights."

Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, celebrates the triumph of light over darkness.

More than 2,000 years ago, a small band of Jewish warriors, Judah and the Macabees, fought against Syrian-Greeks for their religious freedom. Against all odds, Judah and the Macabees defeated one of the mightiest armies at that time and drove the Greeks from the land, and reclaimed their Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

When they were ready to rededicate the temple by lighting the Temple's menorah, they found only enough oil one day, even though it would take eight days before the temple could be fully dedicated.

But the small amount of oil burned for eight days, long enough for the temple to be rededicated and a new supply of oil to be ready.

In addition to feasting on latkes and donuts, children play dreidel games and get gold chocolate coins, called gelt.

Gross said that in order to share in the joy of the holiday season, families sent in items such as cereal, pasta, diapers that were placed in baskets the children decorated. The baskets will be taken to the Interfaith Food Pantry to be given to people in need over the holiday season.

Mazel Tots has about 70 students from ages two to four in seven classes. The kids got to take home a Hanukkah gift as well, with a book, donated by the Synagogue, dreidels, Hanukkah candles and a homemade drip mat, to be placed under the Menorah to catch the melting wax.

The synagogue is inviting the community out to a Hanukkah Happening to be held  Sunday morning between 9 and 11 am.

Synagague Executive Director Gary Katz promised songs, arts and crafts projects and games for young and old.

"It's going to be like a carnival and, of course, we will have lots of food," Katz said.

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