by Saskia & Gabriella of BCU Jewish Society
Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights that usually coordinates alongside Christmas. Hanukkah can be spelt in many different ways however the most common are “Hanukkah” and “Chanukah”.
The word of Chanukah means in Hebrew “dedication” as it celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem during the times of the Greeks (200 BCE – 101 BCE).
Under Greek rule, Jews were unable to practice religious activity and rituals, a small group of Jews called the Maccabees fought against them and won. However, the Jewish temple was destroyed, in an effort to restart the temple the people wanted to light the menorah (a 7 lamp candelabrum) but could only find enough oil to last one day. The miracle of Chanukah is that the oil burned for 8 days, enough time for them to produce new oil. For that reason the festival of Chanukah lasts 8 days.
Each night lighting a candle on the menorah starting from the right- hand side. To celebrate Chanukah this year from the 10th- 18th December, we eat fried foods and give and receive gifts from family and friends over the eight nights.
The most common oily foods we eat during the 8 days are Doughnuts and Latkes (fried grated potatoes). Special prayers are said before each lighting of the menorah along with traditional songs. For a lot of people lighting the candles is a time for families to be together.
Menorahs are usually placed by a window or by a doorway so everyone can feel and see the lights burning and remember the suffering and miracles that took place in Jerusalem all those centuries ago.
“A little light goes a long way…The Chanukah candles are lit when dusk is falling. Perched in the doorway, they serve as a beacon for the darkening streets. No matter how dark it is outside, a candle of goodness can transform the darkness itself into light”.
This blogpost was written by members of our Jewish Society. You can join, or find out more about them, here.