Happy Hanukkah and some info about Hanukkah

Discussion in 'Spirituality/Worship' started by TwoCatDoctors, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member



    What Is Hanukkah?
    All About the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah

    By Ariela Pelaia, About.com Guide

    Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights. It starts on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, which coincides with late November-late December on the secular calendar.

    In Hebrew, the word “hanukkah” means “dedication.” The name reminds us that this holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.

    The Hanukkah Story

    In 168 B.C.E. the Jewish Temple was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of the god Zeus. This upset the Jewish people, but many were afraid to fight back for fear of reprisals. Then in 167 B.C.E. the Syrian-Greek emperor Antiochus made the observance of Judaism an offense punishable by death. He also ordered all Jews to worship Greek gods.

    Jewish resistance began in the village of Modiin, near Jerusalem. Greek soldiers forcibly gathered the Jewish villages and told them to bow down to an idol, then eat the flesh of a pig – both practices that are forbidden to Jews. A Greek officer ordered Mattathias, a High Priest, to acquiesce to their demands, but Mattathias refused. When another villager stepped forward and offered to cooperate on Mattathias' behalf, the High Priest became outraged. He drew his sword and killed the villager, then turned on the Greek officer and killed him too. His five sons and the other villagers then attacked the remaining soldiers, killing all of them.

    Mattathias and his family went into hiding in the mountains, where other Jews wishing to fight against the Greeks joined them. Eventually they succeeded in retaking their land from the Greeks. These rebels became known as the Maccabees, or Hasmoneans.

    Once the Maccabees had regained control they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem. By this time it had been spiritually defiled by being used for the worship of foreign gods and also by practices such as sacrificing swine. Jewish troops were determined to purify the Temple by burning ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days. But to their dismay, they discovered that there was only one day's worth of oil left in the Temple. They lit the menorah anyway and to their surprise the small amount of oil lasted the full eight days.

    This is the miracle of the Hanukkah oil that is celebrated every year when Jews light a special menorah known as a hanukkiyah for eight days. One candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah, two on the second, and so on, until eight candles are lit. You can learn more about the hanukkiyah in the article: What Is a Hanukkiyah?

    Significance of Hanukkah

    According to Jewish law, Hanukkah is one of the less important Jewish holidays. However, Hanukkah has become much more popular in modern practice because of its proximity to Christmas.

    Hanukkah falls on the twenty-fifth day of the Jewish month of Kislev. Since the Jewish calendar is lunar based, every year the first day of Hanukkah falls on a different day – usually sometime between late November and late December. Because many Jews live in predominately Christian societies, over time Hanukkah has become much more festive and Christmas-like. Jewish children receive gifts for Hanukkah – often one gift for each of the eight nights of the holiday. Many parents hope that by making Hanukkah extra special their children won't feel left out of all the Christmas festivities going on around them.

    Hanukkah Traditions

    Every community has its unique Hanukkah traditions, but there are some traditions that are almost universally practiced. They are: lighting the hanukkiyah, spinning the dreidel and eating fried foods.

    * Lighting the hanukkiyah: Every year it is customary to commemorate the miracle of the Hanukkah oil by lighting candles on a hanukkiyah. The hanukkiyah is lit every night for eight nights. Learn more about the hanukkiyah in the article, What Is a Hanukkiyah?

    * Spinning the dreidel: A popular Hanukkah game is spinning the dreidel, which is a four-sided top with Hebrew letters written on each side. Read The Hanukkah Dreidel to learn more about the dreidel, the meaning of the letters and how to play the game. Gelt, which are chocolate coins covered with tin foil, are part of this game.

    * Eating fried foods: Because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is traditional to eat fried foods such as latkes and sufganiyot during the holiday. Latkes are pancakes made out of potatoes and onions, which are fried in oil and then served with applesauce. Sufganiyot (singular: sufganiyah) are jelly-filled donuts that are fried and sometimes dusted with confectioners’ sugar before eating. Learn more about Hanukkah food traditions in the article, Hanukkah Food Traditions.

    FROM: http://judaism.about.com/od/holidays/a/hanukkah.htm
  2. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member

    Welcome to the "Frequently Asked Questions" pages of JOI' (JEWISH OUTREACH INSTITUTE)s website, where we try to address some of the most common and difficult queries.

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    What is Hanukkah and how is it celebrated?
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    FROM: http://joi.org/qa/index.shtml
  3. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member

    I personally believe that the more we learn about the various religions and beliefs and their traditions, it helps to lift what I see is the mystery and fear that others may feel--and that mystery and fear can lead to scaremongering, antagonism, aggressiveness and full misunderstanding. I believe learning allows us to feel more confident and positive about the people of those other faiths and beliefs that are all around us. We're all neighbors in this world.

    My strongest memory a long time back is being in Target with my one cat in my scooter basket. A Muslim woman in full dress, who identified herself as Muslim, approached me and kindly asked me questions about my cat. She was so interested, she asked me if I would wait a moment so she could bring her young son and daughter to meet me and the cat and if I would explain to them what I had to her. The children were fully clothed in Muslim dress also and I talked to them about my cat and the ways in which that cat helped me at home and in coming with me to the store.

    The kids and the mother were petting my cat and told me that the cat was well behaved and as they all left, they said were very pleased to have met me and my cat and learned so much about the cat. In thinking back, I could have freaked out because of their ethnic dress or that they were Muslim--but I didn't consider any of that because there I was, disabled in an electric scooter, and this wonderful family so politely spoke with me without freaking out because I was disabled in an electric scooter with a cat in my scooter basket. They all left an endearing mark on my heart and soul and I think I carry them with me forever.

    Also in some of the foreign countries, dogs and cats are considered "unclean" so dogs and cats would not be petted, not allowed in cars, or of a nature to be the subject of discussion--I realized it later and was even more grateful for the encounter I had with the family.

    By the way, my sister-in-law is Jewish, but is not practicing and is married to my Christian brother who is not practicing. When I tried to ask my sister-in-law many years ago about Judaism, she didn't want to discuss it--and it is everyone's right to not discuss religion, so I was left still wondering.