Mostly for me Hanukkah was all about getting presents for eight days, haha, but I know there’s another meaning, because I went to Sunday school and even Hebrew school for a while, which was kind of expected considering my grandfather was a rabbi.
Our Jewish Festival of Lights lasts for eight days and nights in honor of a 2,000-year-old miracle in which light won out over darkness.
This year Hanukkah started yesterday at sundown, and ends Monday, December 26.
Hanukkah commemorates the dedication of the second temple in Jerusalem. In 164 BCE, the Jewish people revolted against the Greeks in the Maccabean War. After their victory they cleansed the temple and re-dedicated it.
There was an oil lamp there that only had one day of oil, but the lamp burned for eight days. This is called the miracle of the oil and is where the eight days of celebration comes from.
Like most of our holidays, food is key. Traditional Hanukkah foods include latkes and doughnuts fried in olive oil to represent the miracle of the burning oil lamp.
A bygone tradition was to give gold coins called gelt but today children are often given chocolate coins in a gold wrapping to make them look like gelt.
Besides receiving gifts, the star of the show is the menorah.
Menorah candles are to burn for at least half an hour after the sun sets.The menorah is a special candelabra with nine candles. Each day an additional candle is lit. The ninth candle is called a shamash. This candle is usually in the middle and set higher from the other eight candles to separate it from the rest. It’s the only candle that is supposed to be used for lighting the others.
Since this country seems to be in the middle of a disgusting new dark age of anti-Semitism and racism, it’s even more imperative that we stand up and speak out against prejudice and discrimination, once again bringing light into darkness.
There’s a lot of abhorrent history in this powerful image from Germany…
During Hanukkah 1931, Rachel Posner, wife of Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner, took this photo of the family Hanukkah menorah from the window ledge of the family home looking out on to the building across the road decorated with Nazi flags.