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Israelis produce first Hanukkah-worthy pure olive oil in 2,000 years

The oil was produced after "decades of painstaking research and preparation," Temple Institute officials said.

By Brooks Hays
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Israelis produce first Hanukkah-worthy pure olive oil in 2,000 years
An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy lights candles on the eighth and final night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah in Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, December 23, 2014. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire in 165 B.C. UPI/Debbie Hill | License Photo

JERUSALEM, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil, isn't just for the kitchen -- it's also for the holidays, specifically Hanukkah. At the center of the Hebrew celebration is the menorah.

But according to the Temple Institute -- an organization "dedicated to every aspect of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, and the central role it fulfilled, and will once again fulfill, in the spiritual wellbeing of both Israel and all the nations of the world" -- there hasn't been suitable oil for the Temple's official menorah in 2,000 years. Until now, that is.

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For the first time in 2,000 years, officials at the Temple Institute produced olive oil that met the religious-legal standards required for use in the Jewish Temple's menorah.

The oil was produced after "decades of painstaking research and preparation," according to the Temple Institute. It was burned on Monday night, the seventh night of this year's Hanukkah celebration, during a procession through Jerusalem's Old City.

There are two types of menorahs. One is the seven-pronged lamp (six branches) that is described in the Bible and is one of the symbols of Israel. It's often referred to as the Temple menorah. By religious edict, only the purest of olive oils is worthy of this menorah. The other menorah is the nine-pronged version (eight branches) lit during the eight-day holiday of Hanukkah.

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