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Hanukkah family menorah

The Holiday Hanukkah!

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Hanukkah is a Jewish festival commemorating the recovery of Jerusalem and subsequent rededication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE.

In order to rededicate the temple, the Maccabees had to light a menorah that would burn within the temple at all times. However, there was only one small cruse of pure oil, enough to light the menorah in the Temple for one day. But it lasted eight days, in time to produce new pure oil and the menorah was able to remain lit and never burn out. This miracle is attributed to God and the faith that the Jews had in God.

The most famous symbol of Hanukkah is the hanukkiah, the nine-branched candelabra which is lit each night, and can often be seen in house windows. Hanukkah celebrations are centered around lighting the hanukkiah, and families will gather to light the candles together.

Eight candles symbolize the number of days that the Temple lantern blazed; the ninth, the shamash, is a helper candle used to light the others. Families light one candle on the first day, two on the second (and so on) after sundown during the eight days of Hanukkah while reciting prayers and singing songs.

The celebration:

There are many ways to celebrate Hanukkah, eating latkes playing dreidel and giving gelt are just a few.

potato pancakes (called latkes) are also meant to symbolize the miracle of Hanukkah, The symbolism comes in the form of the oil in which latkes are fried.

Hanukkah gelt, also known as gelt, refers to money given as presents during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. It is typically given to children and sometimes teachers, often in conjunction with the game of Dreidel.

The dreidel developed from an Irish or English top introduced into Germany known as a teetotum, dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times. The Hebrew letters inscribed on a dreidel are a Nun, Gimel, Hey or Chai, and Shin. The letters form an acronym for the Hebrew saying Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, which can be translated to “a great miracle happened there,” referring to the miracle which Hanukkah is centered around.

Unlike other Hanukkah traditions, such as lighting candles and saying a prayer, playing dreidel is not required during Hanukkah. It’s just for fun. So why do we play it at all? There are a number of explanations for why. Most Jewish children are told that a long time ago, when Jewish people were forbidden from studying their religion, they would do so anyway—but when officials approached, they would hide their books and play with spinning tops, claiming they were just having fun.

Cosmo Insurance wishes all our clients and friends a happy Huanukka and happy holidays!