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Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights or Festival of Rededication, is an eight day Jewish holiday that starts on the 25th day of Kislev, which may be in December, late November, or, while very rare in occasion, early January (as was the case for the Hannukkah of 20052006). The festival is observed in Jewish homes by the kindling of lights on each of the festival's eight nights, one on the first night, two on the second night and so on. In Hebrew script, the word Hanukkah is written חנכה, hănukkāh, or חנוכה, hănūkkāh. It is most commonly transliterated to English as Hanukkah or Chanukah.

The holiday was called Hanukkah meaning "dedication" because it marks the re-dedication of the Temple after its desecration under Antiochus IV. Spiritually, Hanukkah commemorates the Miracle of the Oil. According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days - which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate new oil.

However, non-Talmudic sources include no reference to the eight days of oil that has come to be a popular understanding and modern practice of Hanukkah. The Hebrew deutero-canonical books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees record different reasons as the origin of the eight days of Hanukkah. 1 Maccabees reads that, "For eight days they celebrated the rededication of the altar. Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the rededication...should be observed...every year...for eight days. (1 Mac.4:56-59)"

2 Maccabees says, "The Jews celebrated joyfully for eight days as on the feast of Booths."

Another interpretation for the 8 day ceremony is that it commemorates the story of Hannah and her 7 sons. The story depicted in the Talmud and in the Book of Maccabees accounts how Hannah's 7 sons were tortured and executed according to Antiochus' policy when they refused to bow to a statue and to taste pork. Hannah herself committed suicide after the death of her sons.

Historically, Hanukkah commemorates two events:

The triumph of Judaism's spiritual values as embodied in its Torah (symbolized by the Menorah, since the Torah is compared to light) over Hellenistic civilization (considered darkness) which under Antiochus IV, had attempted to culturally assimilate the Jews away from practicing Judaism's commandments, by forcefully installing Greek religious symbols in the Second Temple.

The victory of the Jews over the armies of Antiochus IV. The rebellion was begun by Mattathias Maccabee and continued by Judah Maccabee and his other sons. They defeated overwhelming forces, and re-dedicated the Second Temple.

The spiritual side of Judaism shies away from commemorating military victories, the Hasmoneans later became corrupt, and civil war between Jews is considered deplorable, so Hanukkah does not formally commemorate either of these historical events. Instead, the festival commemorates the Miracle of the Oil and the positive spiritual aspects about the Temple's re-dedication. In doing so, the oil becomes metaphor for the miraculous survival of the Jewish people through millennia of trials and tribulations.

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Historical sources

In the Talmud

The miracle of Hanukkah is described in the Talmud. The Gemara, in tractate Shabbat 21b, says that after the occupiers had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that almost all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned. They found only a single container that was still sealed by the High Priest, with enough oil to keep the Menorah in the Temple lit for a single day. They used this, and miraculously, that oil burned for eight days (the time it took to have new oil pressed and made ready).

The Talmud presents three customs:

Lighting one light each night per household, One light each night for each member of the household, or, The most pious method, where the number of candles changed each night.

There was a dispute over how the last option was to be performed: either display eight lamps on the first night of the festival, and reduce the number on each successive night; or begin with one lamp the first night, increasing the number till the eighth night. The followers of Shammai favored the former custom; the followers of Hillel advocated the latter. As is the case in most such disputes, Jews today follow Hillel. Except in times of danger, the lights were to be placed outside one's door or in the window closest to the street.

Josephus Couldn't believe that the lights were symbolic of the liberty obtained by the Jews on the day that Hanukkah commemorates. Rashi, in a note to Shabbat 21b, says their purpose is to publicize the miracle. Hanukkah is also mentioned in the (older) Mishnah (TB Megillah 30b).

In the Septuagint

The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees. A story similar in character, and obviously older in date, is the one alluded to in 2 Maccabees 1:18 et seq., according to which the relighting of the altar-fire by Nehemiah was due to a miracle which occurred on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, and which appears to be given as the reason for the selection of the same date for the rededication of the altar by Judah Maccabeus.

The Books of Maccabees (Sifrei HaMakaviyim) are not part of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), but are part of deuterocanonical historical and religious material preserved in the Septuagint. The Tanakh ends with the consequences following the events of Purim, and had already been codified many centuries earlier by the Men of the Great Assembly (Anshei Knesset HaGedolah).

Another source is the Megillat Antiokhos a text ascribed to the Maccabees themselves by Saadia Gaon, but according to some scholars, perhaps written around the first or second century CE. Indeed, Saadia Gaon's theory is highly unlikely, as Megillat Antiokhos gives the timeframe for the story in relation to the destruction of the second Temple, which occurred over 200 years later, and could not possibly have been known to the Maccabees...

The holiday is mentioned in the Christian Bible in the book of John 10:22-23.

The story


Around 200 BCE Jews lived as an autonomous people in the land of Israel, also referred to as Judea, which at that time was controlled by the Seleucid king of Syria. The Jewish people paid taxes to Syria and accepted its legal authority, and by and large were free to follow their own faith, maintain their own jobs, and engage in trade.

By 175 BCE Antiochus IV Epiphanes ascended to the Seleucid throne. At first little changed, but under his reign Jews were gradually forced to violate the precepts of their faith. Jews rebelled at having to do this. Under the reign of Antiochus IV, the Temple in Jerusalem was looted, Jews were massacred, and Judaism was effectively outlawed.

In 167 BCE Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons John, Simon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus. Judah became known as Judah Maccabee ("Judah the Hammer"). By 166 BCE Mattathias had died, and Judah took his place as leader. By 165 BCE the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated.

The festival of Hanukkah was instituted by Judah Maccabee and his brothers to celebrate this event. After having recovered Jerusalem and the Temple, Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, oil was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. But there was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight-day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle.

Hanukkah lamp unearthed near Jerusalem, c. 1900.The version of the story in 1 Maccabees, on the other hand, states that an eight day celebration of songs and sacrifices was proclaimed upon rededication of the altar, and makes no mention the miracle of the oil. A number of historians believe that the reason for the eight-day celebration was that the first Hanukkah was in effect a belated celebration of the festival of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. During the war the Jews were not able to celebrate Sukkot properly. The theory is based on the belief that Sukkot also lasts for eight days, and was a holiday in which the lighting of lamps played a prominent part during the Second Temple period (Suk.v. 2-4). However, Sukkot is in fact a seven-day holiday, the eighth day being a separate festival known as Shemini Atzeret ("the Eighth Day of the Assembly"; see Lev. 23:33-36, Num. 29:12; Deut. 16:13-15). The historian Josephus mentions the eight-day festival and its customs, but does not tell us the origin of the eight day lighting custom. Given that his audience was Hellenized Romans, perhaps his silence on the origin of the eight-day custom is due to its miraculous nature. In any event, he does report that lights were kindled in the household and the popular name of the festival was, therefore the "Festival of Lights" ("And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights").

It has been noted that Jewish festivals are connected to the harvesting of the Biblical seven fruits which Israel was famed for. Pesach is a celebration of the barley harvest, Shavuot of the wheat, Sukkot of the figs, dates, pomegranates and grapes, and Hanukkah of the olives. The olive harvest is in November and olive oil would be ready in time for Hanukkah in December.

It has also been noted that the number eight has special significance in Jewish theology, as representing transcendence and the Jewish People's special role in human history. Seven is the number of days of creation, that is, of completion of the material cosmos. Eight, being one step beyond seven, represents the Infinite (as an eight turned on its side). Hence, the Eighth Day of the Assembly festival, mentioned above, is according to Jewish Law a festival for Jews only (unlike Sukkoth, when all peoples were welcome in Jerusalem). Similarly, the rite of circumcision, which brings a Jewish male into God's Covenant, is performed on the eighth day. Hence, Hanukkah's eight days (in celebration of monotheistic morality's victory over Hellenistic humanism) have great symbolic importance for practicing Jews.

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Hanukkah rituals

Various menorot used for Hanukkah, also called Hanukiot (sing. Hanukiah). 12th thru 19th century, C.E.Hanukkah has relatively simple religious rituals that are performed during the eight nights and days of the holiday. Some aspects are practiced at home by the family, other aspects are communal. There are additions to the regular daily prayer services in the Siddur, the Jewish prayer book. Jewish law does not require one to refrain from activities on Hanukkah that would fit the Jewish definition of "work." Thus people are allowed to go to school and work. Employees are not given the holiday off and children are generally only given two or three days off from school.

Kindling the Hanukkah Lights

The primary ritual, according to Jewish law and custom, is to light a single light each night for eight nights. As a universally-practiced "beautification" of the mitzvah, the number of lights lit is increased by one each night. An extra light called a shamash, meaning guard or servant is also lit each night, and is given a distinct location, usually higher or lower than the others. The purpose of the extra light is to adhere to the prohibition, specified in the Talmud (Tracate Shabbat 21b-23a), against using the Hanukkah lights for anything other than publicizing - and meditating on - the Hanukkah story. (This differs from Sabbath candles which are meant to be used for illumination). Hence, if one were to need extra illumination on Hanukkah, the shamash candle would be available and one would avoid using the prohibited lights. Some light the shamash candle first and then use it to light the others. So all together, including the shamash, two lights are lit on the first night, three on the second and so on, ending with nine on the last night, for a total of 44.

The lights can be candles or oil lamps. Electric lights are sometimes used and are acceptable in places where open flame is not permitted, such as a hospital room. Most Jewish homes have a special candelabra or oil lamp holder for Hanukkah, which holds eight lights plus the additional shamash light. In the State of Israel, it is usually called a "chanukkiyah". Ashenazic Jews (central and east European Jews) mostly call it a "Hanukkah menorah," though chanukkiyah has become more common. Some Sephardic Jews (west European, Mediterranean and Latin American Jews) simply call it "a hanukkah". By contrast, the Temple menorah, described in Exodus 25:31 ff, which is often used to symbolize Judaism, has six branches plus a central shaft, for a total of seven lamps.

The reason for the Hanukkah lights is not for the "lighting of the house within", but rather for the "illumination of the house without", so that passers-by should see it and be reminded of the holiday's miracle. Accordingly lamps are set up at a prominent window or near the door leading to the street. It is customary amongst some Ashkenazim to have a separate menorah for each family member (customs vary), whereas most Sephardim light one chanukkiyah for the whole household. Only when there was danger of anti-semitic persecution were lamps supposed to be hidden from public view, as was the case in Persia under the rule of the fire-worshipers, or in parts of Europe before and during World War II. However, some groups, e.g. Chabad-Lubavitch, light lamps near an inside doorway, not in public view.

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When to light the lights

Hanukkah lights should burn for at least one half hour after it gets dark. The standard candles sold for Hanukkah burn for half an hour, so on most days this requirement can be met by lighting the candles when it is dark out. Friday night presents a problem, however. Candles must be lit before the start of Shabbat and inexpensive Hanukkah candles do not burn long enough to meet the requirement. A simple solution is to use "tea lights" or Shabbat candles, arranging them in a straight line and setting the shammus candle apart and above the rest.

Blessings over the candles

Typically three blessings (Brachot singular Brachah) are recited during this eight-day festival. On the first night of Hanukkah, Jews recite all three blessings, on all subsequent nights, they recite only the first two. The blessings are said before or after the candles are lit depending on tradition. On the first night of Hanukkah one light (candle, lamp, or electric) is lit on the right side of the Menorah, on the following night a second light is placed to the left of the first and is lit first proceeding from left to right, and so on each night.

The first blessing Recited all eight nights just prior to lighting the candles:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik neir (shel) chanukah. Translation: "Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah lights."

The second blessing

Recited all eight nights just prior to lighting the candles:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, she-asah nisim la-avoteinu, bayamim haheim, (u)baz'man hazeh. Translation: "Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors, in those days, at this season."

The third blessing Recited

only on the first night just prior to lighting the candles:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu, v'kiyemanu, vehigi-anu laz'man hazeh. Translation: "Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us in life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season."

After kindling the lights - Hanerot Halalu When the lights are kindled the Hanerot Halalu prayer is subsequently recited:

(Ashkenazic version):

Hanneirot hallalu anachnu madlikin 'al hannissim ve'al hanniflaot 'al hatteshu'ot ve'al hammilchamot she'asita laavoteinu bayyamim haheim, (u)bazzeman hazeh 'al yedei kohanekha hakkedoshim. Vekhol-shemonat yemei Hanukkah hanneirot hallalu kodesh heim, ve-ein lanu reshut lehishtammesh baheim ella lir'otam bilvad kedei lehodot ul'halleil leshimcha haggadol 'al nissekha ve'al nifleotekha ve'al yeshu'otekha.

Translation: "We light these lights For the miracles and the wonders, for the redemption and the battles that you made for our forefathers, in those days at this season, through your holy priests. During all eight days of Hanukkah these lights are sacred, and we are not permitted to make them serve except for to look at them in order to express thanks and praise to Your great Name for your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvations."

Singing of Maoz Tzur after lighting

Each night after the lighting of the candles, while remaining within eyeshot of the candles, Ashkenazim (and, in recent decades, some Sephardim and Mizrahim in Western countries), then usually sing the following hymn written in Medieval Ashkenaz (Germany). It lists a number of events of persecution in Jewish history, and praises God for survival despite these tragedies.

Ma-oz Tzur Yeshu-ati, lecha na-eh leshabei-ah. Tikon beit tefilati vesham todah nezabei-ah. Le-et tachin matbe-ach mitzar hamnabei-ah. Az egmor beshir mizmor chanukat hamizbei-ah.

Ra-ot sav'ah nafshi, b'yagon kochi kilah. Chayai meir'ru b'koshi, b'shibe-ud malchut eglah. Uv'yado hag'dolah hotzi et has'gulah. Cheil Par'oh vechol zaroh yardu ke-even bim'tzulah. D'vir kodsho hevi-ani vegam sham lo shakateti. Uva noges v'higlani ki zarim avad'ti. V'yein ra-al masachti kimat she-avarti. Keitz Bavel Zerubavel l'keitz shivim noshati.

Kerot komat b'rosh bikesh Agagi ben Hamdatah. V'nih'yata lo lefach ul'mokesh vegavato nishbata. Rosh y'mini niseita ve-oyev shemo machita. Rov banav v'kinyanav al ha-etz talita. Y'vanim nikbetzu alai azai bimei Chashmanim. Ufartzu chomot migdalai vetimu kol hashmanim. Uminotar kankanim na-aseh nes lashoshanim. B'nei vinah yemei sh'monah kavu shir urna-anim.

Chasof z'roa kodshecha v'karev keitz hayeshu-a. Nekom nikmat dam avadecha me-uma haresha-a. Ki archa lanu hasha-a ve-ein keitz limei hara-ah. Dechei admon b'tzeil tzalmon hakeim lanu ro'im shiv'ah. Many Jews sing only the first verse, repeating the lines to form the Hanukkah melody. It is also common to sing just the first and fifth verses, the fifth dealing specifically with Hanukkah.

Other Customs

Various Hassidic and Sefardic groups have additional prayers that are recited both before and after lighting the Hanukkah lights. This includes the recitation of many Psalms, most notably Psalms 30, 67, and 91 (many Hassidim recite Psalm 91 seven times after lighting the lamps, as was taught by the Baal Shem Tov), as well as other prayers and hymns, each congregation according to its own custom.

Additions to the daily prayers An addition is made to the "hoda'ah" (thanksgiving) benediction in the Amidah, called Al ha-Nissim ("On/about the Miracles"). This addition refers to the victory achieved over the Syrians by the Hasmonean Mattathias and his sons. (The erroneous designation of Mattathias as son of Johanan the high priest seems to rest upon the late Hebrew apocryphal "Megillat Antiokhos" or "Megillat Hanukkah," which has other names and dates strangely mixed.) The liturgical part inserted reads as follows:


Al hanisim v'al hapurkan v'al hag'vurot v'al hat'shuot, v'al hamilchamot she-asita la-avoteinu bayamim haheim bazman hazeh. Bimei Matityahu ben Yochanan kohein gadol chashmonai u-vanav, k'she-amda malchut yavan har'sha-a al amcha Yisrael l'hashkicham toratecha ul'ha-aviram meichukei r'tzonecha. V'ata b'rachamecha harabim amadta lahem b'eit tzaratam, ravta et rivam, danta et dinam, nakamta et nikmatam, masarta giborim b'yad chalashim v'rabim b'yad chalashim v'rabim b'yad m'atim, ut'mei-im b'yad t'horim, ursha-im b'yad tzadikim v'zeidim b'yad os'kei toratecha. Ul-cha asita t'shu-a g'dola ufurkan k'hayom hazeh. V'achar kein ba-u vanecha lidvir beitecha ufinu et heichalecha v'tiharu et mikdsashecha v'hidliku neirot b'chatzrot kodsecha v'kav'u sh'monat y'mei Chanuka eilu l'hodot ul'haleil l'shimcha hagadol. Translation:

We thank You also for the miraculous deeds and for the redemption and for the mighty deeds and the saving acts wrought by You, as well as for the wars which You waged for our ancestors in ancient days at this season. In the days of the Hasmonean Mattathias, son of Johanan the high priest, and his sons, when the iniquitous Greco-Syrian kingdom rose up against Your people Israel, to make them forget Your Torah and to turn them away from the ordinances of Your will, then You in your abundant mercy rose up for them in the time of their trouble, pled their cause, executed judgment, avenged their wrong, and delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and insolent ones into the hands of those occupied with Your Torah. Both unto Yourself did you make a great and holy name in Thy world, and unto Your people did You achieve a great deliverance and redemption. Whereupon your children entered the sanctuary of Your house, cleansed Your temple, purified Your sanctuary, kindled lights in Your holy courts, and appointed these eight days of Hanukkah in order to give thanks and praises unto Your holy name.

The same prayer is added to the grace after meals. In addition, the Hallel Psalms are sung during each morning service and the Tachanun penitential prayers are omitted. Since Hanukkah lasts eight days it includes at least one, and sometimes two, Sabbaths. The weekly Torah portion for the first Sabbath is almost always Miketz, telling of Joseph's dream and his enslavement in Egypt.

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Traditional Hanukkah foods

There is a custom to have Hanukkah parties and to eat foods fried or baked in oil, preferably olive oil, as the original miracle of the Hanukkah menorah involved the discovery of the small flask of oil used by the Jewish High Priest (the Kohen Gadol). Many Ashkenazi families make potato pancakes, known as latkes in Yiddish. Many Sephardim as well as Polish Ashkenazim and Israelis have the custom to eat all kinds of doughnuts (bimuelos or sufganiyot) which are deep-fried in oil.

Hanukkah games


DreidelThe dreidel (a four-sided spinning top) is associated with Hanukkah. It has four sides, each engraved with a different Hebrew letter:


These letters are an acronym for the Hebrew words, , Nes Gadol Haya Sham"A great miracle happened there" (referring to the miracle of the oil that took place in the Beit Hamikdash).

In Israel, the fourth side instead shows the letter (Pe), rendering the acronym, , Nes Gadol Haya Po"A great miracle happened here" (referring to the fact that the miracle occurred in the land of Israel).

Traditional Jewish commentaries ascribe deep symbolism to the markings on the dreidel. One commentary, for example, connects the four letters with the four exiles to which the nation of Israel was historically subjectBabylonia, Persia, Greece, and Rome.

The dreidel is the centerpiece of a game which is often played after the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah, to keep the children interested during the short time the candles are burning. Each player starts out with 10 or 15 coins, nuts or other markers, and places one marker into the "pot". The first player spins the dreidel, which lands with one of its symbols facing up, indicating the appropriate action to be taken, corresponding to one of the following Yiddish words:

Nun - nisht - "not" - the next player spins

Gimel - gants - "all" - the player takes the entire pot

Hey - halb - "half" - the player takes half of the pot, rounding up if there is an odd number

Shin - shtel ayn - "put in" - the player puts one or two markers in the pot

Another version differs in that nun is nem - "take", while gimel is gib - "give". The game may last until one person has won everything.

The dreidel game is played in part to commemorate a game that the Jews under Greek domination played to camouflage their Torah study. Though the Greeks made a law forbidding the study of Torah, the Jews would gather in caves to engage in learning. A lookout was posted to alert the group to the presence of Greek soldiers; if he spotted them, he would give a signal and the Jews would hide their scrolls and begin playing with spinning tops (dreidels) and coins. This ruse gave the impression that they were engaged in gambling, not learning.

Hanukkah gelt

Hanukkah gelt (Yiddish for "money") is often distributed to children to enhance their enjoyment of the holiday. The amount is usually in small coins, although grandparents or other relatives may give larger sums as an official Hanukkah gift. In Israel, Hanukkah gelt is known as damei Hanukkah.

Twentieth-century American chocolatiers picked up on the gift/coin concept by creating chocolate gelt, or chocolate shaped and stamped like coins and wrapped in gold or silver foil. Chocolate gelt is often used in place of money in dreidel games.

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Interaction with other traditions

Hanukkah gained increased importance with many Jewish families in the twentieth century, including large numbers of secular Jews who wanted a Jewish alternative to the Christmas celebrations that often overlap with Hanukkah.

In recent years, an amalgam of Christmas and Hanukkah has emerged dubbed "Chrismukkah" celebrated by some mixed-faith families, particularly in the United States. A decorated tree has come to be called a "Hanukkah bush". Other Jews (tongue-in-cheek) simultaneously acknowledge both the increasing secularization of the holiday season and their Jewish roots by wishing each other a "happy cholidays."

Though it was traditional to give "gelt" or money coins to children during Hanukkah, in many families this has changed into gifts in order to prevent Jewish children from feeling "left out" of the Christmas gift giving.

These secular traditions are not a traditional part of the Hanukkah observance, and are often frowned upon by more observant and traditionally-minded Jews.

Alternative spellings based on transliterating Hebrew letters

As mentioned above, there is a frequent confusion over the many alternative spellings of Hanukkah in the English language. The only standard spelling of Hanukkah is the Hebrew five letters - Chet(Ch, H,K) Nun Vav Kaf Hey - plus the vowels, which are not written in advanced Hebrew. Thus, the most accurate transliteration to English is 'Ch(a)n(u)k(a)h'. But as 'ch' is pronounced differently in English than it is in the traditional Romanisation of Hebrew (which was based upon analogies to German and Latin spelling), and the 'kaf' consonant is part of a long syllable instead of a short one, "Hanukkah" (technically with a small dot under the first 'H,' to show it is pronounced like broad Latin and German 'ch') emerged as an alternative that is more pronounceable to the Anglophone eye.

spelling variations are due to transliteration of Hebrew Chet Nun Vav Kaf HeyHanukkah (most common in the United States) Chanukah (common alternative in the United States) Hanukah (less common alternative in the United States) Chanuka (rare spelling; in Hebrew, dropping the final 'h' would change the gender of the word)


Hanuka (rare spelling; again, the gender would be masculine instead of feminine, in Hebrew)


Hanukka (rare spelling)

Khanike (YIVO standard transliteration from the Yiddish and/or Ashkenazic pronunciation of the Hebrew)



Prep: 20 min.

Cook: 2 min.


4 medium potatoes (about 1-1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat (schmaltz)
2 slightly beaten eggs
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cooking oil
Sour cream (optional)
Applesauce (optional)


1. Peel and finely shred potatoes. In a mixing bowl combine potatoes with chicken fat, eggs, garlic, and salt. Using 1/3 cup mixture for each latke, press mixture into patties about the size of the palm of your hand, squeezing out excess liquid.

2. In a large skillet heat chicken fat over medium-high heat. Carefully slide patties into hot fat.

3. Cook over medium-high heat about 2 minutes or until latkes are golden brown, turning once.

4. Repeat with remaining batter. Add additional fat during cooking, as needed. If necessary, reduce heat to medium to prevent overbrowning. Drain on paper towels and keep warm. Serve with sour cream or other toppings, if desired. Makes about 10 latkes.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Hanukkah Brisket


1 3- to 4-pound fresh beef brisket
1/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper
Dash salt
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 medium carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 medium onions, chopped
1 7-1/2-ounce can tomatoes, cut up
1/2 cup port wine
1 envelope regular onion soup mix
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
2 bay leaves


1. Trim excess fat from brisket; sprinkle meat with seasoned pepper and salt. Place flour in a large oven cooking bag and shake; add brisket. Set the bag in a roasting pan.

2. Combine carrots, celery, onions, undrained tomatoes, wine, soup mix, basil, and bay leaves; pour atop brisket. Close bag; cut slits in top of bag and seal the bag.

3. Roast in a 325 degree F oven for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until tender. Remove bay leaves. Slice meat across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Skim fat from pan juices; serve with meat. Makes 12 main-dish servings.

Make-Ahead Tip: Cool meat in bag; cover and chill overnight. To reheat, remove meat from bag; thinly slice. Place slices in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Skim fat from juices; pour over meat. Cover; heat in a 300 degree F oven about 50 minutes or until hot. Serve as above.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Fruited Wilted Spinach Salad


1/4 cup dried apricots, cut into 1/8-inch strips
1/4 cup dry sherry, cream sherry, or dry white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
12 cups torn spinach leaves, well washed
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar, red wine vinegar, or white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt 1 15-ounce can pitted li
ght or dark sweet cherries or one 10-ounce package frozen dark sweet cherries (thawed), drained and patted dry
1/3 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives


1. Place apricots in a small bowl and cover with sherry or wine. Cover and let stand 30 minutes or until plump. Drain, reserving liquid.

2. Meanwhile, place spinach in a very large salad bowl. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and red onion. Cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or just until softened. Add reserved fruit soaking liquid, vinegar, honey, pepper, and salt. Bring to boiling. Remove from heat; pour hot mixture over spinach. Toss just until spinach is coated and slightly wilted. Sprinkle with apricots, cherries, and olives. Makes 8 side-dish servings.

Make-Ahead Tip: Clean and tear spinach up to 8 hours in advance; cover and chill.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Star-Shaped Challah Recipe

Prep: 45 min.
Rise: 1 hour 30 min.
Bake: 25 min.

1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground saffron (optional)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons sesame seed


1. Dissolve yeast in the 3/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Let stand until bubbly (about 5 minutes). Stir in 1-1/4 cups of the flour, the sugar, egg, egg white, oil, salt, and saffron, if desired. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in as much remaining flour as you can with a wooden spoon.

2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes total). Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl; turn once to grease surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (1 hour).

3. Punch down dough. Divide in half. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Shape each piece into a 32-inch-long rope. On a greased cookie sheet, shape one rope into a triangle; pinch ends together. Form a six-pointed star by weaving the second rope over and under the first triangle, forming a second triangle; pinch ends together. Make six 2-inch balls of foil. Place foil in holes that form star points. Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly double (about 30 minutes).

4. Combine egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water. Brush over loaf. Sprinkle with sesame seed. Bake in a 375 degree F oven about 25 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped, covering with foil after 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Makes 1 loaf (16 servings).

Wreath-Shaped Challah: Prepare as above, except divide dough into 3 pieces. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Shape each piece into a 22-inch-long rope. Loosely braid ropes. Place braided dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Form braid into a wreath shape; pinch ends together. Cover and let rise; brush with egg yolk and water; sprinkle with sesame seed and bake as directed.

Make-Ahead Tip: Bake and cool bread as directed. Place in an airtight freezer container or wrap in foil and place in a large plastic freezer bag. Seal, label, and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw 1 hour at room temperature before serving.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Dreidel Cake Recipe

Prep: 1 hour

Bake: 30 minutes


1 1/2 cups shortening
1 package 2 layer-size yellow cake mix
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoons almond extract
6 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
4 to 5 tablespoons water
Blue food coloring
Yellow food coloring


1. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake according to package directions. Cool 10 minutes on wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening, vanilla and almond extract with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add 3 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in 3 tablespoons of the water. Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar and enough water to make a spreading consistency. Remove 3/4 cup frosting and set aside. Remove 3/4 cup frosting; add enough blue food coloring to make desired color. Remove 1/2 cup frosting; add enough yellow food coloring to make desired color. Set colored frostings aside.

3. Cut the cake as shown. Assemble cake pieces on a large serving tray, using white frosting to attach pieces.

4. Frost the top and sides of cake with white frosting. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip (#28 or #35) with reserved 3/4 cup white frosting. Decorate cake as desired. Using a pastry bag fitted with a writing tip (#2, #3, or #4) and some of the blue frosting, draw the outline of a Hebrew letter on top of cake. With a pastry bag fitted with the star tip and remaining blue frosting, fill center of the letter. Using a pastry bag fitted with the writing, star, or rose tip (#104) and reserved yellow frosting or any remaining blue frosting, add additional decorations to cake. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Hazelnut Cookies Recipe

Prep: 30 minutes

Bake: 8 minutes


1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground hazelnuts
1 teaspoon poppy seed (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup margarine, softened (see Note, below)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 3 tablespoons apple juice
Blue food coloring


1. In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, ground hazelnuts, poppy seed (if using), and baking powder; set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl beat margarine and granulated sugar together with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until fluffy. Add egg and the 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat until combined. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed until combined. Cover and chill dough at least 3 hours or until easy to handle.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 2-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into desired shapes. Place cutouts about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake cookies in a 375 degree F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

5. For apple icing, in a medium mixing bowl stir together powdered sugar, the 1 teaspoon vanilla, and enough apple juice to make a glaze. Divide in half. Tint half of the icing with blue food coloring; leave other half white. Decorate cooled cookies with white and blue apple icing. Makes about 36 cookies.

Test Kitchen Note: When selecting margarine for baking, be sure it contains no less than 70 percent vegetable oil and that it is called margarine on the label. For most cookie baking, do not use any product called a spread or those products labeled diet, whipped, liquid, or soft. They have a high water content and do not give satisfactory baking results.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Latke Macaroons Recipe

Makes 12 macaroons

Prep: 20 minutes

Bake: 45 minutes


4 large potatoes (about 2 pounds)
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Peel potatoes. Shred lengthwise into fine, long strands. Place shredded potatoes in a colander. Rinse well with cold water. Press to remove as much liquid as possible.

2. In a medium mixing bowl beat egg with oil and salt. Add the shredded potatoes to egg mixture. Using your hands, gently form 1 to 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture into 1-1/2-inch ?haystacks,? squeezing out slightly more than half of liquid as you shape. Place latkes on a greased, shallow baking pan.

3. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with lamb and roasted vegetables, if desired. Makes 12 macaroons.

Note: Use russet or long white potatoes. They are lower in moisture than other varieties. Using higher-moisture potatoes may make the macaroons gummy.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Green Beans in Yellow Pepper Butter Recipe

Makes 8 servings

Start to Finish: 30 minutes


1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 medium yellow sweet pepper, coarsely shredded
6 tablespoons margarine or butter, softened
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1-1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 large yellow sweet pepper, cut into thin strips


1. In a small saucepan melt the 1 tablespoon margarine or butter. Add the shredded sweet pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Set aside.

2. In a blender container or food processor bowl, combine the 6 tablespoons softened margarine or butter and the pine nuts. Cover; blend or process until almost smooth. Add cooked sweet pepper, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper, Cover; blend or process until almost smooth. Set aside.

3. In a covered saucepan cook beans in a small amount of boiling water for 12 minutes. Add the sweet pepper strips the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain the beans and sweet pepper strips.

4. To serve, transfer beans and sweet pepper strips to a serving bowl. Add the blended margarine mixture; toss to coat. Makes 8 servings.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Crafts for Kids

Hand-Crafted Clay Menorahs

Craft Project Directions:

To make this project you will need clay (one that will air dry), craft sticks, a pencil, birthday candle holders, birthday candles, and your hands. Take the clay and knead and flatten it. Next trace or carve out your hands from the clay using a craft stick. Next take your two clay hands, overlap the thumbs and press the hands together. Now stand up the clay hands so that fingers are facing upwards towards the ceiling. Now take your pencil and make a hole in the top of each finger. Place small birthday candle holders in holes in the tops of the clay fingers which you just made with your pencil. There will be eight fingers with eight candles- for every night of Hanukkah and the one candle in the thumbs, called the Shamash, to light the others. Let the menorah dry and then paint the menorah if you want. Add candles.

Source: http://familycrafts.about.com

Crafts for Kids

Handprint Menorahs

Really get your hands dirty with this holiday craft!

Craft Project Directions:

To make this craft you will need black and yellow construction paper and blue and white finger paint. Paint your palm blue and your fingers and thumbs white. Make a hand print on the black construction paper. Make sure all your fingers, including your thumb, are facing straightup. Then do the left hand, and make sure the thumbs overlap. This will create a menorah, with the overlapping thumbs being the Shamesh, and the other fingers the candle holders with candles. Next cut out candle flame shapes.

Source: http://familycrafts.about.com

Crafts for Kids

Make a beautiful Star of David

Craft Project Directions:

To make this project you will need 6 craft sticks, glue, paint or markers, and glitter. Take three craft sticks and form a triangle- glue it together. Next take the remaining 3 craft sticks and create another triangle. Overlay the two triangles and glue them together to create a 6 pointed star. Now decorate with holiday stickers, paint or markers, glitter, or anything else you wish.

Source: http://familycrafts.about.com

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Crafts for Kids

Dreidel Frame Magnets

Craft Project Directions:

To make these festive dreidel frame magnets you will need 2 pieces of the fun foam, paints, glitter, glue,and a photo to put inside the frame. You can find sheets of fun foam at any craft store. Draw a dreidelshape on the fun foam and cut out two identical dreidels from each sheet of foam. Next take one of the dreidel and cut a square out of the shape- this is where your photo will show through. Take the dreidel shape without the hole cut out and attach the photo to it. Glue the other foam dreidelon top of it. Now decorate the driedel with paints, glitter, and glue. Attach a magnet to the back and you will be able to stick it to the ice box. Let it dry and give it to someone special.

Source: http://familycrafts.about.com


Crafts for Kids

Hanukkah Cards

Craft Project Directions:

Cut out Hanukah designs and decorate them. Take a heavier weight paper and fold it in half. Cut it in the shape that you want your card to be, making sure to leave part of the fold intact so the card will open and shut. Next decorate your card with the designs you have made, crayons and other materials, write a little note to the person you are giving it to, and let it dry. Take another piece of heavier weight paper and cut out an envelope for your card. Place the card inside the envelope, and fold the envelope's flaps shut and tape or glue them in place. You have created a beautiful Hanukah card and envelope to match!

Source: http://familycrafts.about.com

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Hanukkah Party Games and Decoration Ideas
By Gail Leino

For this years Hanukkah party you can play the Dont Say that Word game. This is fun game that can be played at just about any home or office party. You will get small stickers and stick one on each guest as he or she arrives to your party. When everyone has arrived at the party you make the announcement that from here on out at the party guests must avoid saying a certain word. It will be need to be a word thats expected to be said at some point during the evening. Then the guests must listen carefully to each other when they are having conversations. If someone mistakenly says the forbidden word and another person notices that person can take the sticker from the person who said the forbidden word and stick it on themselves. At the end of the party you can tally up and see who has the most stickers. Who ever has collected the most stickers wins a prize.

To keep your kids involved in the holiday you can help them create these fun Hanukkah window decals as an activity for the day. Youll need:

clothing paint in blue, yellow, white, silver, gold

cut out picture of a Dreidel

cut out picture of the Star of David

Piece of thin plastic or glass

You might want to put down some newspaper to cover the work area just in case some of the paint gets away from the kids. Take your cut out pictures of the dreidel and the Star of David and slide them under the glass. Then take one of your tubes of clothing paint and outline each of the pictures on the surface of the glass. Carefully fill in the outlines with your different colors of paint, but make sure the entire outline is filled in. Wait a few hours for the paint to dry. When its fully dry you should be able to peel the dried clothing paint off of the glass and then stick it to one of your windows.

Mrs. Party... Gail Leino is the internet's leading authority on selecting the best possible party supplies (http://partysupplieshut.com), using proper etiquette and manners while also teaching organizational skills and fun facts. The Party Supplies Hut has a huge selection of free party games, coloring pages, word find, word scramble, printable baby and bridal shower activities. Hanukkah Party Games (Hanukkah-fun.com), holiday party planning tips, trivia, history, recipes, printable activities and free coloring pages.

Source: http://familycrafts.about.com

The Latke: High Fiber Recipes Even Your Bubba Would Love
By Stephanie Shank

Put on your yamulke...here comes Hanukkah! Okay. It's official. This calendar year, the eight-day winter festival begins on the same day as Christmas. Here's a hint. No matter which holiday you celebrate, choose high fiber foods if you want to control overeating.

Eating high fiber foods will satisfy your hunger and make you feel full. By selecting high fiber recipes for Hanukkah, you can offer foods that could likely lower the absorption of fats. That, my festive friends, is a great advantage for avoiding the dreaded holiday weight gain. Just remember the goal is to consume 25-35 grams of daily fiber.

The Hanukkah tradition of frying in oil is considered the culinary symbol of lighting a menorah. What would Hanukkah be without the latke? There are always some much-loved dishes and foods on the table, but you can easily tweak those classics with some precious grams of high fiber. Who knows? Maybe they will become part of family tradition for years to come.

Fiberlady would like to share two delectable, but very different high fiber latke (a.k.a. potato pancakes) recipes. Your guests will be pleasantly surprised to learn that fiber is not only delicious but nutritious! Enjoy!

Herbed White Bean and Zucchini Latkes 6 servings


1 cup grated zucchini (about 4 ounces)

1 small onion, minced

2 tablespoons butter

2 slices white bread

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 clove garlic

1 (15 oz) can white beans

2 eggs

1 tablespoon snipped or chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried chervil

1/2 teaspoon fresh basil

oil (for frying)


1. Sprinkle zucchini lightly with salt and

drain in colander for 5 minutes.

2. Rinse well, and squeeze in paper towels

to remove all excess water.

3. Saute zucchini with onion in butter

until limp but not browned.

4. In a food processor sprinkle bread

with heavy cream.

5. Add garlic, beans, eggs, cilantro,

thyme,chervil, basil and blend until combined.

6. Fold in sauteed zucchini.

7. Drop by heaping tablespoons full in

a slightly oiled non-stick pan and fry for

4 minutes per side over medium heat, or until

golden brown.

Total Fiber: 4 grams per latke

Cinnamon Apple Latkes 4-6 servings


2 eggs

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/3 cup water

3 cups cooking apples, chopped

3/4 cup flour, unsifted

1 teaspoon lemon peel, grated

oil for frying

1/2 cup sugar


1. Beat eggs until light and foamy.

2. Mix in 3 tablespoons sugar, salt,

1 teaspoon cinnamon, and water until well blended.

3. Stir in chopped apple, flour and grated

lemon peel; mix well.

4. Heat the oil in skillet.

5. Drop 1/4 cup apple mixture into hot

oil. Flatten slightly. Fry on each side

until golden brown.

6. Drain on paper towels.

7. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon to

make the topping.

8. Sprinkle sugar-cinnamon mixture over

hot latkes.

9. Serve immediately.

Total Fiber: 3.5 grams per latke

Now that you are cookin', Fiberlady invites you to consider the rest of your Hanukkah high fiber menu starting with a festive roasted red pepper spread; spiced dates with mascarpone cheese (may be served as appetizer or dessert); mixed greens with walnut and roasted onion dressing; a crockpot version of glazed tzimmes; a tangy sweet and sour brisket (sauerkraut is the secret); and for dessert...Hanukkah noshers..chewish Jewish delights!

All of these savory dishes and so many more may be discovered at www.high-fiber-health/holiday.html. "Hanukkah only lasts for 8 nights, but a high fiber diet can last a lifetime." Take it from Fiberlady.

Stephanie Shank (a.k.a. Fiberlady) has studied good nutrition since her days of mothering began 15 years ago which prompted her commitment to a high fiber lifestyle and the development of her top ranked website High Fiber Health.

Who Was The Hero Of Hanukkah?
By Dr. Mel Glazer

Okay, all you scholars of Jewish history, the Rabbi has a question for you. What does it mean to be a hero? In the famous Hanukkah story, which we all know and love; the story of Judah Maccabbee and his family who fought and defeated the Syrian-Greeks and rededicated the Temple; the tiny little cruise of oil which was only supposed to last for one day but lasted for eight days; the piercing story of Hannah and her sons who died rather than profane the Holy Name of God; in that famous story, who was the hero? Who exhibited the most courage?

Well, you could say that all of them were heroes, and to a degree you would be right. Judah and his brothers showed physical bravery against the raw physical power of the opposing armies. They fought well, they were brave and we remember them with affection and with pride. It is perhaps no accident that when we Jews, be it in the State of Israel or the Diaspora, schedule Olympic-type events, they are almost always called the Maccabi Games or the Maccabiah. We venerate the efforts shown by the Maccabees, and we honor them in this moving way.

Hannah and her sons were also heroesthe sons refused to renounce their religion and they were willing to die as martyrs in order to sanctify the Holy name of God, and Hannah stood and watched as each one was killed.. She could have told them to give in to the Romans, but she did not. Our Tradition is filled with examples of those who chose to die as Jews rather than to live as apostates. The Ten Rabbis who were executed by the Romans and those brave souls who died on Masada remind us always of the need to protect our Jewish identity, no matter what.

But my own personal choice for the Hero of Hanukkah is the priest who lit the menorah in the Temple KNOWING that there was only enough oil for one day. He knew this oil had to last for eight days, because that is how many days earlier Temple Dedications had lasted. He knew he did not have enough oil, and he lit anyway. How could he do this? He had faith that somehow, in a way that even he did not know at that time, somehow a miracle would happen and there would be enough oil. The easiest thing for him to have done would be not to light the menorah, and probably no one would have criticized him. But he did not take the easy way out. He had faith, he lit the menorah, and the miracle happened. Miracles happen to those who invite them to happen. In the time of the Maccabees, and in our own time as well. Happy Hanukkah!

Dr. Mel Glazer is a Grief Recovery Specialist working in private practice with grievers all across America. You can visit his website at http://www.yourgriefmatters.com. Dr. Glazer has served as a Rabbi, Author, and Speaker for over thirty years, and he is recognized as a pioneer in the art of using our life-losses to help us learn life-lessons. We only uncover what is truly important about ourselves by how we respond to the losses in our lives, and so each loss becomes our cherished teacher. He is widely published, and his upcoming book, And God Created Hope: How Our Favorite Bible Stories Lead Us From Mourning To Morning will be published in 2006.

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