Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday became the first Oklahoma governor to host a Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremony at the state Capitol.
The menorah lighting ceremony in the governor's Blue Room was held in conjunction with the Chabad Jewish Center of Oklahoma City.
Hanukkah, an eight-day holiday often called the Jewish Festival of Lights, begins at sundown Saturday.
“Although Chabad has partners all over the world bringing the universal message of Hanukkah, this is the first time a governor of Oklahoma has agreed to host a menorah lighting event,” Ovadia Goldman, rabbi of the Oklahoma City Chabad center, said Friday.
“It's a monumental moment of sharing our faith.”
Hanukkah commemorates the victory of a band of Jews, the Maccabees, against Greek-Syrian occupiers in 165 B.C. and the rededication of the Jewish Temple.
When the Maccabees reclaimed the temple from their oppressors, they wanted to light the eternal light, known as the Ner Tamid, which is in every Jewish house of worship.
According to tradition, once lit, the oil lamp should never be extinguished, but the Maccabees had only enough oil for one day. During Hanukkah, people celebrate the miracle that the lamp stayed lit for eight days with only the small amount of oil that remained.
Jews worldwide gather around menorahs to light a candle each night of the holiday as they celebrate the long-ago miracle of the oil.