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Jews around the world start Hanukkah holiday with candle lighting, potato pancakes, gifts

Saturday - 12/8/2012, 4:10pm  ET

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Jews around the world are ushering in the eight-day Hanukkah festival this evening, lighting the first candles of ceremonial lamps that symbolize triumph over oppression.

In Israel, families gathered after sundown for the lighting, eating traditional snacks of potato pancakes and doughnuts and exchanging gifts.

Local officials lit candles set up in public places, while families displayed the nine-candle menorahs in their windows or in special windproof glass boxes outside.

Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish uprising in the second century B.C. against the Greek-Syrian kingdom, which had tried to impose its culture on Jews and adorn the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem with statues of Greek gods.

Also known as the festival of lights, the holiday lasts eight days because according to tradition, when the Jews rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem, a single vial of oil, enough for one day, burned miraculously for eight.

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130-r-20-(This is the sound of Hanukkah music, with the eight day festival of lights beginning tonight)--This is the sound of Hanukkah music with the eight day festival of lights beginning tonight. (8 Dec 2012)

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131-r-21-(This is the sound of Hanukkah music, with the eight day festival of lights beginning tonight.)--This is the sound of Hanukkah music with the eight day festival of lights beginning tonight. (8 Dec 2012)

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APPHOTO XAK150: Poland's chief rabbi Michael Schudrich, center, lights the first candle celebrating the beginning of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, on Grzybowski square in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz) (8 Dec 2012)

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APPHOTO XAK152: People gather to watch the lightning of the first candle, celebrating the beginning of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, on Grzybowski square in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz) (8 Dec 2012)

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