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Hanukkah, the festival of lights, celebrates the restoration of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. In 164 BCE, a group of Jewish rebel fighters called the Maccabees regained control of the Temple from its previous Hellenistic rulers. According to an account in the Talmud, a single container of oil was found in the ravaged Temple, which should have only sufficed to light the Temple’s candelabrum (or menorah) for one day but miraculously kept it burning for eight days and nights.

Ever since, in the winter holiday of Hanukkah, the Hanukkah candles are lit on eight consecutive nights. Over the centuries, the triumph of a small band of resistance fighters against a mighty army grew into a legend that bolstered a common identity, praised bravery, and gave reason to believe in miracles.

Hanukkah is a festive celebration, but it is not one of the important Jewish holidays. It is mostly celebrated at home in the company of family and friends, who light candles and say blessings at nightfall. The Hanukiah is placed in a visible place in front of the house or in a window. The festivities include a number of traditional Hanukkah songs and even a Hanukkah game played with a spinning top called a dreidel. To recall the special role of oil in the Hanukkah miracle, foods cooked in oil are favored, including latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (a type of doughnut).

Five Hanukkah cutters for children

Five Hanukkah cutters for children; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

Hanukkah Objects

Toys, decorations, and historical images: discover more Hanukkah objects from our collections (in German)

Online Collections

Five dreidels made of different materials.


Paper Model Sheet

A woman with short gray hair (Hetty Berg) stands in front of a Hanukkah menorah.

Hanukkah at the JMB

Hanukkah 2021: Candle lighting with Yiddish songs, instrumental music and dance

Video Recording
2 Dec 2021

Toy figures sit at a laid table.

Hanukkah Toys

Hanukkah doesn’t traditionally involve gift-giving, but the Jewish festival of lights is increasingly commercialized

From our Holdings

Christmas tree on Pariser Platz with the illuminated Brandenburg Gate in the background

The Jewish “Advent Hero” Who Doesn’t Celebrate Christmas – and Hanukkah either!

A somewhat peculiar honor for the Shalom Rollberg initiative

Dec 2020

An accordion player and a singer make music on stage

Hanukkah at the JMB

Candle lighting with Yiddish songs, instrumental music and dance

Video Recording
12 Dec 2020

Hand-painted colorful candelabrum made of ceramic and synthetic resin depicting various New York City landmarks: the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the World Trade Center, Broadway, and others.

Hanukkah Lasts Eight Days...

and for each day, we’ve got a little treat for you here

Online Feature

A teddybear holding a burning candle sits alongside an eight-branched lampstand.

“8 Facts” about Hanukkah

David Studniberg on the Jewish Feast of Dedication


The hanukkah candelarium described in the text on a table together with presents, a lamp and a dreidel.

“If I were a rich mouse ...”

Michal Friedlander on Mickey, Minnie and their Hanukkah message


Brass candlestick with straight edges and triangle shapes, for eight candles side by side and a smaller one in the middle

Hanukkah Menorah made by Ludwig Wolpert

One of the the first pieces of modern Judaica

From our Holdings

Hand puppet standing behind a box filled with pancakes, plus a speech bubble.

In the Sleeping Car with Ten Hand-puppets and a Travel Hanukkah Candelabrum

by Shlomit Tripp

First hand story

A menora, flowers, and the book

Menurkeys for Thanksgivukkah?

Food for thought and recipes by Signe Rossbach


Illustration of a man dressed as Santa walking past a man wearing Orthodox Jewish clothing (detail).


Stories of Christmas and Hanukkah

Exhibition Website

Illustration of a man dressed as Santa walking past a man wearing Orthodox Jewish clothing (detail).


Exhibition catalog, with index of the exhibits for download, in German


More on This Topic …

Jewish Holidays

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