The December Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, with our Chanukah special section inside, is now at the printer! Be sure to check out our craft projects and our art contest participants in the special section. The whole publication is to arrive in homes on or around Dec. 1.
Chanukah is a story about a miracle. It begins this year at sundown on Tuesday, Dec. 12 and ends Wednesday, Dec. 20.
In 168 B.C.E, the Syrian army of Antiochus desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem and dedicated it to Greek god Zeus. Antiochus made the observance of Shabbat illegal. He demanded the Jews accept worship to idols and alters or be condemned to death.
In a series of battles, Judah Maccabee’s army defeated the Syrians and reclaimed the Temple. The Jews commemorated this by lighting the ner tamid (eternal light) which miraculously burned for 8 days from one jar of oil, according to ReformJudaism.org.
Thus, Chanukah is known as the “Festival of Lights.” There is a celebratory sweetness to the holiday because families light the nine-branch Hanukkiah one candle per night for eight nights. A holiday largely catered towards children, families eat potato latkes and jelly-filled donuts known as sufganiyot, both treats fried in oil. Latkes are served with a side of apple-sauce and sour cream.
Dreidel is played by children and adults at the table and gifts are exchanged, one per night. Dreidel is a four-sided spinning top, with the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, heh and shin. These letters translate to the phrase, “A great miracle happened there,” according to aish.com.
Chanukah reminds us to worship our one G-d. Chanukah means “dedication” and as it relates to our lives in this new year, we must always uphold our beliefs, especially against adversity and remember at our core, our Jewish identity.
Chanukah is imbedded in the Jewish culture. One of its purposes is “to keep alive the flame of Jewish religion, culture, and peoplehood so that it may be passed on to the next generation,” according to ReformJudaism.org. It serves as a reminder that every moment of our lives is a blessing and the gift of life and freedom is to be rejoiced, illuminated by the eternal flame.