Happy Channukah!

Happy Channukah!

Another year has rolled by so quickly and Channukah has just begun here in Israel.

I take the liberty or reposting what I wrote post about Channukah last year:

A short history of Channukah, from Aish.com

The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication.” In the 2nd century BCE, during the time of the Second Holy Temple, the Syrian-Greek regime of Antiochus sought to pull Jews away from Judaism, with the hopes of assimilating them into Greek culture. Antiochus outlawed Jewish observance ― including circumcision, Shabbat, and Torah study ― under penalty of death. As well, many Jews ― called Hellenists ― began to assimilate into Greek culture, taking on Greek names and marrying non-Jews. This began to decay the foundation of Jewish life and practice.

When the Greeks challenged the Jews to sacrifice a pig to a Greek god, a few courageous Jews took to the hills of Judea in open revolt against this threat to Jewish life. Led by Matitiyahu, and later his son Judah the Maccabee, this small band of pious Jews led guerrilla warfare against the Syrian-Greek army.

Antiochus sent thousands of well-armed troops to crush the rebellion, but after three years the Maccabees beat incredible odds and miraculously succeeded in driving the foreigners from their land. The victory was on the scale of Israel defeating the combined super-powers of today.

Jewish fighters entered Jerusalem and found the Holy Temple in shambles and desecrated with idols. The Maccabees cleansed the Temple and re-dedicated it on the 25th of Kislev. When it came time to re-light the Menorah, they searched the entire Temple, but found only one jar of pure oil bearing the seal of the High Priest. The group of believers lit the Menorah anyway and were rewarded with a miracle: That small jar of oil burned for eight days, until a new supply of oil could be brought.

From then on, Jews have observed a holiday for eight days, in honor of this historic victory and the miracle of the oil. To publicize the Chanukah miracle, Jews add the special Hallel praises to the Shacharit service, and light a menorah during the eight nights of Chanukah.

There are several customs associated with Channukah, chief amongst them eating foods made with or fried in oil (to commemorate the miracle of the jar of oil), especially latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jam-filled doughnuts – or jelly donuts for the Americans amongst us)  and playing with the dreidel, a little spinning top. According to tradition, under Greek rule it was forbidden to study Torah, so students would gather in secret. If they were discovered by the Greeks they would pull out dreidels and pretend to be gambling or playing games.

To help us celebrate, here’s a novel way to light the Menorah (With thanks to my friend Linda for sending me the link) from the brain-boxes at the Technion in Haifa (who seem to have way too much time on their hands!). :-).

Happy Channukah!

חג אורים שמח!

Be sure to click on the link within the video to see how they made the lighting-machine. I found it both moving and highly amusing to see how much dedication these young scientists brought to this complicated invention. 🙂

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12 Responses to Happy Channukah!

  1. Fay says:

    Excellent video, I loved it:)

  2. Rob Harris says:

    Happy Channukah to you and your family. Its amazing how these issues repeat themselves throughout history. I’m sure the parallel of the Hellenists with that of so many Jewish people that try to appease others (very often their enemies) today, and distance themselves from Israel, isn’t lost on many of those that celebrate this religious festival!

    • anneinpt says:

      Exactly Rob. in fact, we say on Seder night, on Passover, “For it was not only one man (Pharaoh) who stood against us to destroy us, for in every generation they rise up to destroy us”. The Hagadah (Seder night order of service) doesn’t specify who “they” are, but we all understand this enemy in the context of our own times, whether it is Hitler or Stalin or Ahmadinejad or Arafat. It is indeed fascinating (if not a bit scary) how each period in history has its parallels with the eras before and after it, all the way back to the beginning.

      And you’d think our enemies would have learned by now that they’re not going to get rid of us so easily.

      You’re also correct to point out the “Hellenisers” or the appeasers. They are just as dangerous as our external enemies.

      Meanwhile, the classic Jewish response to this is: “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat!”.


  3. Earl says:

    Happy Channukah, Anne. May it be a peaceful and happy time for you and your family. A great video- likely more engineering went into that effort than the entire Arab world produces in a century.

    One of my Jewish mates and i will be going out for dinner this week; as he says, “we’ll be eating the food of my people- Chinese!”. I’m good with that 😉

    • anneinpt says:

      Earl, LOL! I thought Chinese was what Jews ate for Christmas dinner. 😀

      Been busy partying and trying to avoid doughnuts and latkes – perhaps Chinese food would be a good alternative!

  4. Rachel says:

    Happy Channukah!
    Celebrating Channukah in Germany this year. As a German-Canadian Jew it’s a moving experience to witness this rebirth of Jewish life and Jewish communities in Germany.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you Rachel, Happy Channukah to you too and welcome to my blog!

      I find it both fascinating and surreal to see the revival of Jewish communities in places where we were literally hounded to death. On the one hand I wish all those Jews would come to Israel, but on the other hand, “living well is the best revenge”, and reviving those communities is certainly sweet revenge on those who would have exterminated us.

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