Families from across metro Phoenix gathered Sunday evening to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah.
At Biltmore Fashion Park, Chabad Lubavitch of Arizona held an event where families shared latkes and applesauce and caught up while children played on the grass lawn and made crafts. Some came in festive attire, like Richard Lievhaver, who wore an outfit similar to Santa Claus but blue, complete with a menorah hat.
Young sisters Olivia and Harper Gotfried had no trouble picking their favorite part of the event.
"The food! The food," Harper exclaimed, agreeing with her sister that the latkes and jelly doughnuts were the highlight.
Hanukkah, also known as "The Festival of Lights," is a Jewish holiday observed over the course of eight days. It commemorates the retaking and rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem by the Jewish warriors and Judah the Maccabee over the Syrian-Greek oppressors.
In the story, the rededication ceremony needs a candle, but there is little to no oil left in the Holy Temple. The oil that is found burns for eight days, bringing about the eight days of Hanukkah.
After last year's muted Hanukkah due to the COVID-19 pandemic, about 200 people were at the Phoenix event by sunset, which culminated in the lighting of the first candle on a large menorah.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: People gather in Phoenix to celebrate first night of Hanukkah 2021