What is Chanukah?
Chanukah is a Jewish holiday and is called the festival of lights and is celebrated for eight days. It commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over their oppressors in 165 BCE. The religious observance lasts from sunset on the 25th day of Kislev to nightfall on the 2nd day of Tevet.
In Hebrew, Chanukah means “dedication. Jews celebrate it by lighting a menorah and reciting prayers that are said during Shabbat”. Says Sam Kahn.
Chanukah is observed by kindling lights on each night of the holiday. The lights are usually placed in a candelabrum called a Chanukiah, which holds nine candles or oil lamps representing each night. One candle or lamp is lit for each night and one more for each day.
The story of Chanukah starts with Antiochus, an evil king who wanted to take away the Jewish religion and make everyone worship Greek idols. He set up an altar in Jerusalem and ordered everyone to sacrifice pigs on it.
When they refused, he killed many Jews in his anger. After 3 years, Jewish rebels led by Judah Maccabee defeated Antiochus’s troops in battle and restored freedom to Israel.
Chanukah is a festival for children. It is a time of hope and optimism. It is a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians.
Chanukah is a festival that is celebrated in the evening. It is one of the most popular Jewish festivals.
During the Hanukkah holiday, families eat latkes (potato pancakes), (round jelly doughnuts), and other foods to celebrate the miracle of the Festival of Lights.
A popular activity during Hanukkah is a gambling game played with a four-sided spinning top known in Yiddish as a dreidel.
Legend attributes this custom to Jews during the time of the Hanukkah story who would grab a dreidel and start to play if Syrian soldiers entered the house during Torah study or prayer. The truth is, though, that the custom is probably much later.
A large miracle happened in the Diaspora when four letters – NUN, GIMEL, HEY and SHIN – were chosen to adorn the sides of a dreidel.
Claiming4U wishes you all a “Happy Chanukah”!