Chanukah (or Hanukkah) begins at sundown Friday, December 15th, and local activities are planned throughout the eight-day Jewish festival of lights.

The holiday starts each year on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislez.

Many Jewish groups say that Chanukah is not one of the most important Jewish holidays, but it is widely celebrated due to its proximity to Christmas and its gift-giving element.

In Hebrew, the term Chanukah stands for “dedication,” and commemorates the rededication of an ancient holy temple in Jerusalem.

The story of Chanukah is that around 165 B.C.E., a small band of Jews drove out the much mightier Greek army that was attempting to Hellenize the Jewish culture. When the Jewish fighters reclaimed the temple in Jerusalem, they found only a single cruse of oil. Miraculously, the one-day supply of oil burned for eight days until new oil could be prepared, the story goes. Chanukah celebrates and commemorates the miracle.

MARINA LIGHTING — The Marina Shul will host its “Grand Menorah Lighting” from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, December 17th, in Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey. Participation is free.

In addition to the lighting of a large gold-colored menorah, there will be a kosher barbecue lunch for purchase, a children’s program, Jewish holiday foods and remarks by Rabbi Yossi Naparstek.

“Chanukah celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality,” explains Naparstek.

Naparstek, who will give a blessing and talk about the meaning of the holiday at the menorah lighting, says the purpose of having a celebration in Burton Chace Park is to “teach and expose the miracle to the public.”

The rabbi hopes the celebration of Chanukah will cause people to reflect on ways they can “make the world a better place, be kind and appreciate one another,” he says.

All faiths are welcome at the celebration, including non-believers, the rabbi says.

Information, (310) 305-3200.

CHANUKAH FESTIVAL — A public Chanukah celebration organized by the Chabad Jewish Center in the Del Rey area will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, December 17th, at the Center Court of the The Promenade at Howard Hughes Center, 6081 Center Drive, Westchester. Admission is free.

A large blue and white balloon menorah will be the centerpiece of the celebration and Rabbi Yossi Greisman will make comments and give a blessing.

The event will also include family activities, including Chanukah arts and crafts such as crafting your own menorah, dreidels and gelt, doughnuts and latkes, creating a Chanukah greeting card, and decorating your own Chanukah cookie, balloons and face painting, .

Information, (310) 417-8500.

HANUKKAH PIZZA PARTY — Hanukkah-time is pizza time each year at B’nai Tikvah Congregation, 8820 Sepulveda Eastway. The congregation combines its annual Hanukkah candle lighting festivities with a pizza party, starting at 6:15 p.m. on the fifth night of Hanukkah, Tuesday, December 19th. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children.

Guests are invited to bring their own “hanukkiah” (a.k.a. menorah) and six candles to participate in the lighting. The event is organized by the B’nai Tikvah Sisterhood and includes singing and Israeli dancing.

Information, (310) 645-6262.

MISHKON TEPHILO PARTY — A Hanukkah menorah lighting and party will be held at Temple Mishkon Tephilo, a conservative synagogue at 201 Hampton Drive in Venice. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. with arts and crafts for young children led by Meredyth Glass, followed by a program for young children hosted by Mollie Wine at 4:30 p.m.

A large menorah will be lit on the steps of the Mishkon Tephilo sanctuary at 206 Main St., Venice at 5 p.m., with remarks by Rabbi Dan Shevitz. Shevitz then leads an indoor menorah lighting in the social hall at 5:30 p.m. followed by sufganiot (jelly donuts) and latkes (potato pancakes) with apple sauce.

The event concludes with Aliza Wine hosting “Who Wants to be a Minyanaire?,” a Jewish spin on the TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Information, (310) 392-3029.