I have never really celebrated this holiday, other than making potato pancakes (latkes) which are served with applesauce and sour cream.

(The pancakes are delicious. I used to grate the potatoes on a regular metal grater, but now I just run them through the food processor,with an onion. Add a little matzo meal/or flour, salt/pepper,a couple of eggs and fry in oil.) Drain on paper towels. Keep warm in oven until they are all made.

But this year as my grandson is in town, I decided to do the whole thing, complete with candle lighting and playing the dreidel game. This is a top that is spun. The children ‘bet’ gold covered chocolate coins and can win or lose their coins. Sort of like poker.

The Story of Chanukah

2012 Saturday December 8, sundown

Every year between the end of November and the end of December, Jewish people around the world celebrate the holiday of Chanukah, 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, long ago in a galaxy far, far away

WHOOPS! Wrong story! 🙂

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. The word Chanukah means “rededication”.

In America, families celebrate Chanukah at home. They give and receive gifts, decorate the house, entertain friends and family, eat special foods, and light the holiday menorah.