First night of Hanukkah kicks off

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Hurricane Michael caused water damage and minor structural damage to the Temple B'nai Israel in Panama City, but according to the Temple's president, Mike Starkman, all members of the congregation made it through the storm and are lighting the first of eight candles Sunday to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah.

Starkman says Hanukkah celebrates the cleaning and reclaiming of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from the Greek Assyrians.

Initially however, Hanukkah wasn't going to be celebrated at all.

"It commemorates the defeat of another army and that's not something that we tend to do because we are all God's people and it's just not right to remember that kind of stuff so that's why the rabbi's at the time did not want us to celebrate it but the people said let's remember the fact that we have our Temple back again," Temple B'nai Israel President Mike Starkman said.

The holiday, that's also known as the festival of lights, also commemorates the miracle of how a one-day supply of oil lasted much longer.

"It lasted for eight days which is just the amount of time that supposedly it took a runner to get from Jerusalem to the Galilee where the olive oil was made and brought back to Jerusalem. So it would take eight days for that to happen but this one day supply lasted for eight days," Starkman said.

Similarly to most holidays, Hanukkah is celebrated with food and occasionally gifts.

"That tradition comes from the fact that we teach the children to play a little game using a top, what we call a dreidel," Starkman said.

The game is played with coins and a dreidel which has four letters on it that stand for a 'great miracle happened there'.