The 101 on Hanukkah

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The 101 on Hanukkah

The menorah, photo credits to TIme Magazine

The menorah, photo credits to TIme Magazine

The menorah, photo credits to TIme Magazine

The menorah, photo credits to TIme Magazine

Bryana Supe, Journalist

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  Hanukkah or ¨Chanukah¨ means dedication. It is a eight-day Jewish holiday beginning on the 25th of Kislev in December of the Civil calendar. It is also called the ¨Festival of Lights,¨ celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple.

  “Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame, Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart” said Hannah Senesh, Jewish paratrooper and poet from the twentieth century.

  The Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids or ¨Syrian-Greeks” in the secondary BCE. The Greeks tried to force the people of Judea to believe in their Greek gods. A small group of Jews defeated the Greek army and sent them out of Judea and reclaimed the Holy Land.

   After the Jewish people took back the land they needed oil to dedicate the Temple back to the gods of Israel. They predicted there was enough oil for one day, but the flame lasted for an entire eight days.

  The candle that is lit is called the Menorah. It has eight candle holders for each of the candle sticks. The first candle is called the ¨Shamash” and it is used to light the rest of the candles.The Menorah is placed in front of a window or doorway, and in recent years large Menorahs stand in front of city halls and malls.

  Italy, India, Yemen, Turkey, and Israel are all countries that celebrate Hanukkah. Eastern Europe celebrates by making Latkes, also known as potato pancakes which are fried in oil, because it is easy to grow potatoes in Eastern Europe. In Israel the citizens make jelly donuts called Sufganiyot, which are also fried in oil. India eats Buriti’s – a candy made with condensed milk and sugar. Many of these treats have made it around the world to North America.

 In Yemen the 7th night is a woman’s holiday. The old book of Maccabees is a Jewish book written in Hebrew, and it tells the tale of Hannah and her seven sons giving their lives instead of changing their beliefs. Therefore, in Yemen, the seventh night of Hanukkah is called “Hannah.”

Many celebrities celebrate Hanukkah, such as Mila Kunis, Adam Sandler, Drake, Seth Rogen, Jerry Seinfeld, Gwyneth Paltrow, Barbra Streisand, and Jack Black. Adam Sandler actually made a Hanukkah television series called The Week Of.   

  During Hanukkah a game is played called “Dreidel.” A dreidel is a spinning top marked with four Hebrew letters, the letters are nun, shin, gimel and hay. These letters are an acronym for “nes gadol hayah sham” and in English it means “a great miracle happened there.”

 The game was inspired by a German game played during Christmas, but in Germany the top was called “Torrel” or “Trundl.”

  To start the game, each player starts off with the same of number of pieces. The pieces include coins, candy, and nuts. At the start of each round each player must put something into the pot. If the top lands on “nun” you win nothing, if it lands on “shin” you have to put something in the pot and if it lands on “hey” half of the pot is yours and if it lands on “gimel” you get the whole pot.

   On Hanukkah special blessings are recited, such as the Hallel prayer. It is said daily. Hallel means “praise” in English. The prayer includes five major parts, “The Exodus from Egypt, The Splitting of the Red Sea, The Giving of the Torah, The Revival of the Dead, and the Jewish history from the Messianic Era. This prayer makes people feel safe.

  Gifts are given on Hanukkah. Day one should be something traditional, like a dreidel, chocolate coins, or a menorah. Day two should be puzzles and games. The third day should be books. Day four, a gift for the family.The fifth day should be pajamas. Day six, a charitable giving day, donate something or give a gift to someone else. The seventh day should be a package of the person’s favorite items. The final day of Hanukkah should be homemade gifts. Things do not have to be bought to be meaningful.

  “We light candles in testament that faith makes miracles possible,” said Nachum Braverman author of The Death Of Cupid.

  Hanukkah is a widely celebrated holiday around the world. It can be celebrated in many different ways with the ones you cherish most.