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Holiday Traditions of Hanukkah Jewish Celebration

The history concerning Hanukkah goes back over two thousand years and involves the holy Temple of Jerusalem. It was in the Temple that the holy book of Torah was kept. The Torah contained the writings of Moses as well as the laws and customs of the Jewish faith. Over many years, the Temple was controlled by different rulers, some of whom did not respect the Jewish faith and put statues of their own gods in the Temple. Finally, after many years of war and persecution, the Jews regained control of the Temple but it was in ruins. History has it that the Jews began rebuilding the Temple of Jerusalem in 165 B.C. A legend from that time tells how the Jews found a small amount of oil to light the Temple lamp. It was believed that the oil would only last one or two days. But the oil lasted for eight days and nights. The Jews celebrated during this time and rededicated the Temple. Hanukkah dates vary between the the early month of November and during late December.

Hanukkah is also known as the "Festival of Lights" because in each synagogue, a holy lamp burns above Jewish scriptures. The light represents a symbol, being the strength of God. Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting of a candle on the Menorah (candle holder) holding nine candles. Eight candles represent the days the oil of the temple lamp lasted. The ninth candle known as Shammes , is a helping candle. The Shammus is the first candle that is lit, and used to light the rest of the candles. The candles are are lit just after the sun goes down. Families sing a Hanukkah song while watching the candles burn.

Latkes (potato pancakes) fried in oil, jelly doughnuts and many other treats fried in oil are enjoyed during Hanukkah. Families sing various songs play games in the light of the Menorah. Children add to their fun with Dreidels-- a four sided "top" that they spin meaning "A great Miracle Happened There." Like many other Jewish Holidays, Hanukkah is a special time for families to be together and celebrate the festivities of joy and thanksgiving.

Holiday Traditions in Israel

Video by Jumpin' Jerusalem


One of the best parts of Hanukkah is having Latkes.

3 large potatoes, grated
1small onion , grated
2 eggs well beaten
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper
vegetable oil for frying

To makes latkes, mix the grated potatoes and onions with eggs, flour and seasonings. Then heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the pancake batter to the oil in large spoonfuls and fry until golden brown. Turn the pancakes and fry the other side. Serve the pancakes with apple sauce and sour cream.