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Happy Hanukkah!

Today begins the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah. This ancient Jewish celebration is filled with history and tradition, and dates back to before the Torah was written. Here are a few fun facts to share throughout Hanukkah over latkes and a rousing game of dreidel.

  • Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration commemorating the military victory of the Jewish Maccabees over the Greek-Syrians. Hanukkah also commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in 164 BCE.
  • Hanukkah can be correctly spelled many different ways, including Chanukah, Chanukkah, and Hanukah.
  • Hanukkah starts on the 25th of the month of Kislev.  But because the Hebrew calendar is lunar rather than solar, it can fall anywhere from November to early January on the standard calendar.
  • The nine-branched candelabrum used on a Hanukkah is a misnomer; it is actually called a chanukiah. The menorah is actually a seven-branched candelabrum.
  •  There is a special “helper candle” called the Shamash that is used to light the rest of the candles each night. This candle is lit first.
  • The Hanukkah candles are added onto the special candelabrum from right to left, but are lit only from left to right.
  • The candles used for lighting chanukiah are supposed to burn for at least half an hour after the stars come out.
  • Hanerot Hallalu is an ancient chant that is recited or sung while lighting the candles. The Maoz Tzur is sung after lighting the candles. It is also known as “Rock of Ages” and was written hundreds of years ago in Europe.
  • Traditional Hanukkah food is cooked during the festival. Many of the traditional foods are fried in oil, which is a sign of tribute to the miracle of purified oil.

 

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