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Hanukkah Celebration Begins

The Jewish celebration of the Festival of Lights was marked in Washington Sunday night with the lighting of the National Hanukkah Menorah on the Ellipse.

Hanukkah officially began at sundown Sunday and was observed around the globe.

Hundreds of people turned out in Washington for the start of an 8-day lighting of the National Menorah. Two candles, one of them a service candle from which all others are lit, were lit in the Sunday evening observance.

Tonight, another candle will be lit at sunset. Eventually, all 8 candles will be lit.

In Jerusalem, President Clinton attended a celebration at the residence of Israeli President Ezer Weizman. Among the celebrants were Israeli soldiers who are no longer on active duty because of wounds sustained in the line of duty.

In hurricane-ravaged Honduras, a small Jewish community is offering a prayer of gratitude to a rabbi in Tarrytown, N.Y. who has offered to restore the Torah scroll pulled from the wreckage of the temple at Tegucigalpa.

The scroll was buried in three feet of mud in Hurricane Mitch, which took more than 7,000 lives in the Caribbean this fall. It was brought to Tegucigalpa by Hungarian immigrants who saved it from the Nazis 60 years ago.

Rabbi Emmanuel Vinas, a scribe or sofer in Tarrytown, will spend two years restoring it so that it can be used in a rebuilt synagogue in Honduras.

Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. It celebrates the Jewish uprising against the Syrians in which they recaptured the temple in Jerusalem in the second century BC. According to Jewish belief, when the temple was taken back, only enough oil was found to light the eternal flame for one day. Instead, the oil burned for 8 days.