I’m a couple of days late with my Chanukah post but the reason is all good – on Sunday we celebrated the brit of our new grandson and we were still in recovery mode so to speak. 🙂 The baby is called Tzuri Menachem and he is beautiful bli ayin hara!
As I wrote in previous years, Chanukah began last night and we have our Menorahs – or Chanukiyot as they are called in Israel – lit up at the window.
This week we’re looking forward to a get-together with our children and grandchildren and we have greatly enjoyed having our daughter and family together with the new baby over the past few days. There is hardly a more enjoyable moment than watching the grandchildren light their own Chanukiyot. Here is Shaked lighting up on Sunday night: ❤
Chanukah is one of my favourite chagim, since it requires very little preparation but lots of eating! 🙂
Chanukah celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after it was desecrated by the occupying Greeks. This became possible by the miraculous military victory of the small and weak Jewish army led by Judah Maccabee and his brothers from the Hasmonean dynasty against the mighty Greek army.
But beyond the physical military victory there occurred an amazing miracle of a spiritual nature – the miracle of the single cruse of pure oil that was found, which enabled the rededication of the Temple to take place. The oil was only enough to burn for one day, while 8 days were needed to prepare a new batch of pure olive oil for the Menorah. The miracles continued when that little cruse of oil sufficed for the full 8 days. Thus we celebrate Chanukah for 8 days, lighting candles each night of the festival.
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.
One of the ongoing themes of Chanukah is how to spell it in English – there seem to be as many spellings as there are days of the festival. The Israeli cartoonist Dry Bones illustrates this in his inimitable way:
This year, as has happened in so many previous years, there are looming dangers from our enemies. This year it comes from the ICC which has decided to prosecute Israel for “war crimes” without similarly investigating the Palestinians. Listen to PM Netanyahu explain the baselessness of the claims against Israel, not to mention the injustice:
We must fight and pray that like the Maccabees of old, we too can fight as the few against the many, and the weak against the powerful, to overcome the unfairness and the bigotry in this absurd prosecution.
Indeed the Jews have plenty to celebrate this Chanukah, in particular the Jews of Britain. In our daily prayers on Chanukah we mention how the “few defeated the many”. Ironically (throwback to Jeremy Corbyn who accused British Jews of lacking a sense of irony) the Labour Party’s slogan was “For the many not the few”, yet in the recent general election it was the self-styled “many” – the Labour Party – which lost resoundingly to the Conservatives.
Topping it off was this week’s fantastic Chanukah message from the new PM Boris Johnson:
Listening to Johnson’s message it is clear that he “gets it” as regards the Jewish community in general and concerning the festival itself. This is in stark opposition to the bland newspeak message from Jeremy Corbyn.
Add to this one of Johnson’s first moves in Parliament as Prime Minister – outlawing boycotts of Israel, and it is clear that thank G-d we have a good friend in London.
And just for fun, some cheeky Chanukah cheer was sent to the Jewish people from space, of all places! The NASA astronaut Jessica Meir tweeted Chanukah greetings, accompanied by a picture of her toes adorned in Chanukah themed socks! 😀
From the ToI article (via Suzanne):
American astronaut Jessica Meir, daughter of an Iraqi-Jewish father, took advantage of the fact that she was floating in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station on Monday (or Sunday, or possibly Tuesday; the ISS sees a sunrise every 92 minutes) to tweet a “Happy Hanukkah” to her 127,000 Twitter followers.
“Happy Hanukkah to all those who celebrate it on Earth!” she wrote above a photo of herself floating atop windows offering a spectacular view of a cloud-draped Earth below.
And the socks. Jessica Meir, astronaut, marine biologist, comparative physiologist, with a resume that includes Harvard and Brown and NASA, unabashedly revealed to the world that she had taken with her — into space — holiday socks festooned with drawings of stars of David and Hanukkah menorahs.
Happy Chanukah everyone! Enjoy the festival and the lights!