Thursday, November 19, 2009

What do you know about Chanukah?

Chanukah food crafts

This is take two on this. For some reason Blogger ate most of this post when I tried to post it on Tuesday. Hopefully this time it will work;)

I am so excited to share this with you. One of the best things about the internet for me, is making friends. I have a sweet friend , Dalia, that I met through a photography site about a year and a half ago. She is simply an amazing photographer. (If you are in New Jersey area, you are lucky, her photographs amaze me all the time.) Last year she had a lovely post on her blog explaining Chanukah traditions including an explanation that was so easy for me to understand. I asked her to help me with a post for this blog, about celebrating Chanukah. As I get older, I’m meeting more and more Jewish friends. And quite frankly, I am embarrassed to say that I just don’t know very much about the religion. There are a lot of other religions and even cultures that celebrate their holidays in December along side Christmas. What a great month this is!

I am excited to learn more about Chanukah because we have relatives about 3 generations back that were Jewish. They mostly adapted to all the religious customs when they converted and moved from Romania to Utah. It was apparently quite a change for them. They adapted to the culture and religion of their area and unfortunately, we don't have any of the old traditions passed down to us. This year I am going to make Latkes and the milk carton dreidel that Dalia mentions below.

Thanks Dalia for taking the time to write this all out for me to share with our little crafty blog.

From Dalia…

"Chanukah -- the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of Kislev 25 -- celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over corruption, of spirituality over materiality.

More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d.

When they sought to light the Temple's menorah, they found only a single vial of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks. Miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.

On Chanukah we also recite Hallel and the Al HaNissim prayer to offer praise and thanksgiving to G-d for "delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few... the wicked into the hands of the righteous."

Chanukah customs include eating foods fried in oil -- latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (doughnuts); playing with the dreidel (a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, heiand shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, "a great miracle happened there"); and the giving of Chanukah gelt, gifts of money, to children.

4-5 medium potatoes
1 onion
3-4T matzah meal or flour
2 beaten eggs
1-2T salt

Grate onions and potatoes. Mix with matzah meal eggs and salt
Heat a few tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Spoon out a heaping spoonful and press it into the side of the bowl to get some of the juices out. Plop it in the pan and flatten it slightly. It should be a nice level mound. When the bottom is getting set and brown it is time to flip them. You will know because the top of the latke will start to look slightly pasty and less like potato strips..
Enjoy with applesauce and or sour cream.

How to play dreidel

Playing with the dreidel is a traditional Hanukkah game played in Jewish homes all over the world, and rules may vary. Here's how to play the basic dreidel game:
1. Any number of people can take part in this great game.
2. Each player begins the game with an equal number of game pieces (about 10-15) such as pennies, nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, matchsticks, etc.
3. At the beginning of each round, every participant puts one game piece into the center "pot." In addition, every time the pot is empty or has only one game piece left, every player should put one in the pot.
4. Every time it's your turn, spin the dreidel once. Depending on the outcome, you give or get game pieces from the pot:
a) Nun means "nisht"or "nothing" [in Yiddish]. The player does nothing.
b) Gimmel means "gantz"or "everything" [in Yiddish]. The player gets everything in the pot.
c) Hey means "halb"or "half" [in Yiddish]. The player gets half of the pot. (If there is an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player takes half of the total plus one).
d) Shin (outside of Israel) means "shtel" or "put in" [in Yiddish]. Peh (in Israel)means "pay." The player adds a game piece to the pot.
5. If you find that you have no game pieces left, you are either "out" or may ask a fellow player for a "loan."

Milk Carton Dreidel
Easy to make dreidel with small milk cartons!

paint and paintbrushes
small milk cartons or boxes

Fold tops of milk cartons down to make boxes.
Mix a little glue with paint and let children
paint boxes. Poke pencil through box from top
downward so point is on bottom


I am so thankful to have friends that are willing to share with me and help me learn new things all the time. I hope some of you learned something new too;)

Chanukah in 2009 will start on Saturday, the 12th of December and will continue for 8 days until Saturday, the 19th of December.

Note that in the Jewish calendar, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Jews will celebrate Chanukah on the sunset of Friday, the 11th of December.

Thanks again Dalia!


(The picture is from my son’s class last year. His teacher is Jewish and she had these adorable things for them to make in addition to a little Christmas tree. The bread is a menorah and the marshmallow, licorice and kiss is a dreidel. How cute are they?)

Heartfelt and Handmade Holidays

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CitricSugar said...

Thank you for sharing about Chanukah. Our Jewish community here is very small (about 100 people) so opportunities to learn firsthand have been few. Plus, it can be a little awkward to chase down a stranger with "Hey friend! Can I ask you about your faith?"

Your post has encouraged me to be a little more active in my learning (but not chasing people down active. :-)

dalia said...

Anjeanette, what a beautiful post. I am honored to be included in your blog and even more honored and lucky to have met such a wonderful person.
Thank you!!
And I love the edible menorah, we make those too.
I am sending you the cookie recipe!