Jewish people from around the world ushered in the eight-day Hanukkah festival today, lighting the first candles of the menorah which symbolizes triumph over oppression.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis attended the celebration in London’s Trafalgar Square, while similar celebrations took place in Berlin, Germany; Moscow, Russia; Warsaw, Poland; and Jerusalem, Israel.
Attending the event in Berlin was Auschwitz survivor Margot Friedlander who hid for 13 months before being found and sent to Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in 1944.
Most of her and her husband’s family members were killed at Auschwitz.
Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, commemorates the Jewish uprising in the second century B.C. against the Greek-Syrian kingdom, which had tried to impose its culture on Jewish people and adorn the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem with statues of Greek gods.
The holiday lasts eight days because according to tradition, when the Jewish people rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem, a single vial of oil, enough for one day, burned miraculously for eight.
For many Jewish people, the holiday symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
Hanukkah – which means dedication – is one of the most popular holidays in Israel, and has a high rate of observance.
Israeli students get time off from school for the holiday, when families gather each night to light the candles, eat and exchange gifts.