SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The Hanukkah celebration begins Tuesday evening for many families all over. It is an eight day holiday in the Jewish religion.
The Rabbi of South Dakota, Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz, is celebrating his first full Hanukkah in South Dakota this year. Last year, he held an event at the Washington Pavilion for the holiday while he was in the process of moving to Sioux Falls.
He said Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah to commemorate a great miracle that happened in 165 BCE.
"It was a victory of right over might," said Rabbi Alperowitz. "To commemorate that victory and subsequent miracles that took place, we celebrate Hanukkah."
Rabbi Alperowitz said a group of Maccabees stood up to a strong Syrian army who tried to force Jewish people to forget about their heritage. The army spilled jugs of pure olive oil that were prepared by the high priest all over the holy temple. The Maccabees would use that oil to light the menorah.
"They were searching everywhere and they found one jug of oil. Miraculously, that jug lasted for eight days and therefore to commemorate that miracle, we light a Hanukkah menorah on eight days of the festival, each night adding one more candle," said Rabbi Alperowitz.
The middle candle is called the shamash and is used to light all of the other candles. They will be lit starting Tuesday evening for about 50 minutes daily.
"There's a rule that we shouldn't benefit from the lights of the menorah for any personal gains," he said. "The menorah is a thing for itself."
The menorah is the center of the holiday. But people will give certain blessings, have traditional foods with oil like donuts and latkes, and spin the dreidel. The Rabbi of South Dakota will be traveling across the state to celebrate the holiday for the next eight days.
He will hold an event at the Froiland Science Complex at Augustana University in Sioux Falls on Sunday. The entire community is invited to attend the free menorah lighting ceremony and stick around for festivities after. It's open to the entire community and will start at 4:00 PM.