The photograph on the left, is of a large menorah in front of the Washington Monument in honor of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. It was shot on assignment for National Geographic Magazine.
The nine-branched Hanukkah menorah commemorates the Miracle of the Oil, when, during the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem, a day's worth of candle oil lasted eight days.
Hanukkah began yesterday, Sunday, December 21, 2008, at sundown.
This holiday is celebrated by Jewish people for 8 days and nights. It celebrates the achievements of Ancient Jewish heroes.
The Hanukkah light symbolizes the light of religious, national and cultural freedom won by the Maccabees for their people.
In 175 BCE the King of Syria tried to abolish Judaism in favour of Zeus worship. There was a revolt (164 BCE) and the temple was restored. It gave new force to the faith that had waned under the influence of Hellenism and Jewish culture began to flourish again. Also the Hebrew language, which had been largely supplanted by Greek, came into its own once more.
The lighting of the Menorah is a very important Hanukkah tradition.