|Style Menorah - The Maccabees: "Mi Chamochah Ba'elim A-donai? - Who is like you Oh G-d?"|
Is celebrated (begins at sunset) in December 1 until December 9, 2010.
(on Jewish calendar, 25 Kislev until 2 Tevet, 5771)
Hanukkah or Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, is a celebration of the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. It also commemorates the miracle of the oil that burned for 8 days
The Families celebrate Chanukah at home or at Synagogue. They give and receive gifs, decorate the house, entertain friends and family, eat special foods, and light the holiday menorah.
Lighting the Chanukah Menorah - The Chanukah Menorah has 8 branches, in contrast to the one in the Temple that had 7 branches. Commencing on 25th Kislev, the Chanukah menorah (or Chanukiah) is kindled to proclaim the miracle of the Temple lights, when the cruse of oil containing only enough oil to light the Temple Candelabrum for one day, lasted for eight days. Starting with one light on the first night, an additional light is added on each of eight nights.
Publicizing the miracle - The lights are placed near a window or doorway in order to publicize the Chanukah miracle.
Ma'oz Zur - This popular hymn is sung after the candles are lit. The song recalls the miraculous defeat of Israel's enemies over the generations.
Chanukah Gelt* or Chanukah Money* - The Chanukah Gelt is distributed to children after the candle lighting.
Dreidel or Spinning top - While the lights are burning, it is customary for the children to play a "put and take" type game with a spinning top, called Dreidel. On the sides of the top are Hebrew letters that both indicate the rules of the game and offer a mnemonic of a Hebrew phrase indicating that "a great miracle happened here."
In the Synagogue - Lights are kindled in the synagogue as well as in the home. Extra prayers are recited. Psalm 30 with its theme of the deliverance of the House of God is an integral part of the festival service in the synagogue.
The Story of Hanukkah
- Every year between the end of November and the end of December, Jewish people around the world celebrate the holiday ofChanukah, the Festival of Lights. Chanukah begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, but the starting date on the western calendar varies from year to year. The holiday celebrates the events which took place over 2,300 years ago in the land of Judea, which is now Israel
- Long ago in the land of Judea there was a Syrian king, Antiochus. The king ordered the Jewish people to reject their G-d, their religion, their customs and their beliefs and to worship the Greek gods. There were some who did as they were told, but many refused. One who refused was Judah Maccabee.
- Judah and his four brothers formed an army and chose as their name the word "Maccabee", which means hammer. After three years of fighting, the Maccabees were finally successful in driving the Syrians out of Israel and reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem. The Maccabees wanted to clean the building and to remove the hated Greek symbols and statues. On the 25th day of the month of Kislev, the job was finished and the temple was rededicated.
- When Judah and his followers finished cleaning the temple, they wanted to light the eternal light, known as the N'er Tamid, which is present in every Jewish house of worship. Once lit, the oil lamp should never be extinguished.
- Only a tiny jug of oil was found with only enough for a single day. The oil lamp was filled and lit. Then a miracle occurred as the tiny amount of oil stayed lit not for one day, but for eight days.
- Jews celebrate Chanukah to mark the victory over the Syrians and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. The Festival of the Lights, Chanukah, lasts for eight days to commemorate the miracle of the oil.