BALTIMORE -- Jewish people around the world are getting ready to celebrate Hanukkah, Judaism's "Festival of Lights." The holiday starts at sundown Thursday and runs through December 15.
With the ongoingand a rise in , the holiday's message of light in darkness is particularly relevant this year.
At the Jewish Community Center in Owings Mills, members say the holiday is another reminder of how important it is for more Jewish people to express their identity in a way that feel safe.
The holiday honors the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem from the Assyrian Greeks back in 160 BC. To commemorate the victory, Jewish fighters used the small bit of oil they had to light a menorah.
The holiday is celebrated for eight days to signify how long the oil kept burning.
Sara Shalva with the Jewish Community Center says war and anti-semitism were just as prevalent then as it is now.
But she says this is a holiday about dedication to holy spaces, celebrating miracles and bringing light to a dark and difficult world.
"This year I think more and more people are going to light their menorahs and I also think that I've heard stories about non-Jews also lighting menorahs so Jews feel safe," Shalva said. "Which feels like such a meaningful and nice thing."
The Jewish Community Centers are planning family events for everyone to get into the Hanukkah celebratory spirit.
Throughout the eight-day commemoration, the Jewish Community Centers will have a variety of activities for Jewish and non-Jewish families to enjoy.
On Sunday and Monday, they will have the Hanukkah Wonderland.
There will be an acapella concert, free food and even a lighting experiment hosted by Port Discovery.
"I just feel so grateful that the Jewish community here in Baltimore is as united as it is," Shalva said. "And that our neighbors and the entire community is really aware of what's happening in Israel and has been incredibly supportive of the Jewish community center but also supportive of the Jewish people that live here in Baltimore."
The Wonderland is a ticketed event that costs from 18 to 25 dollars, and you can buy your ticket in person.
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