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A sense of Hanukkah in the Spa City

Many have often held the misconception that Hanukkah, the most well known of Hebrew holidays, is merely the Jewish version of Christmas.

Now, Saratoga Chabad is trying to change those misconceptions, as it transforms the Fiddler on Broadway storefront at 508 Broadway into a Hanukkah wonderland, bringing information, awareness and a little bit of fun to the citizens of Saratoga Springs.

Hanukkah, which in Hebrew means establishing, is an eight-night long winter festival commemorating the rededication of the temple after the Israelites successfully drove their Seleucid and Syrian rulers out of Jerusalem.

"The miracle of Hanukkah was that there was only one cruse of oil left in the temple that was supposed to last for one night," said Rabbi Abba Rubin of Saratoga Chabad, director of 508 Broadway's Hanukkah events. "It lasted for eight days, and that's why we celebrate Hanukkah."

On each of the eight nights, a candle on the traditional menorah is lit with a shamash, or lighting candle, until all eight are lit on the final night.

The holiday has much to offer children, and in this spirit 508 Broadway plans to have plenty of fun items available, including several constructive craft projects.

The dreidel, a traditional Hebrew children's game played with a top inscribed with Hebrew letters, is the focal point of this, as children can design their own dreidels from wood or beads. They can also make menorahs, hats and their own Hanukkah cards, said Rubin. Children also can perform Hanukkah puppet shows, watch Hanukkah -oriented videos and play an oversized game of Connect Four.

Rubin said Hanukkah items and art will be on sale, plus patrons can enjoy free hot cider and traditional latkes (potato pancakes).

"Rabbi Abba," as he is called, is also running his newly launched Kosher Food Pantry at 508 Broadway, allowing patrons to donate kosher foods to Jewish families and individuals in need.

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