I am a cradle Catholic, proud of it. I really did not experience Judaism until college life in Southern California. Rushed together with Jewish gals, roomed with Jewish gals, even my lil sis in my sorority was Jewish- it really was a whole new world for me- I felt very honored yet sheltered.
We taught each other about our faith…she would decorate my Christmas tree and I would light a candle on her Menorah. My dear lil sis Aliza read “1 Corinthians 13 4-8” at my wedding. I am sure she was a bit nervous in front of 300 guests and a few priests but she Aced it…of course she did, she is amazing. So amazing that when I called upon her to help me with this Blog- she was there for me in a heartbeat….and that’s when I heard about Harry.
Aliza has started a new family tradition during the holidays- she created “Hanukkah Harry”. She has 2 lil kids who felt like they “needed” a Santa-like character to associate with the holiday. Can you blame them with all the commercialization that goes on in our society for the holidays?
The kids write letters to Hannukah Harry with their 8 gifts that they would like. And on the morning of the first day of Hanukkah, “Hanukkah Harry” leaves all of their Hanukkah gifts in front of the fireplace in their living room…since they don’t have a tree, that’s how she makes it more exciting for the kids. They LOVE it and so do I! Go Aliza!
Hanukkah begins at sunset on Tuesday, December 20, 2011, and ends at sunset on Wednesday, December 28, 2011.
A National Hanukkah Menorah will be lit tonight on the White House grounds, at the Ellipse during the eight day Jewish holiday commemorating the Jewish Maccabees’ military victory over Syrian oppression more than 2,000 years ago.
(November 30, 2010 – Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images North America)
During Hanukkah, Jews across the world celebrate the miracle of light that burnt for eight days out of a single-days-worth of oil found in the Temple. One Hanukkah candle is lit the first night, and an additional candle is lit each successive night. The holiday is a celebration of religious freedom and hope.
Festivities at the lighting ceremony include musical performances and hot latkes and donuts. It is traditional to eat fried foods on Hanukkah because of the significance of oil to the holiday. This usually includes latkes -which I love! I am a goy (as my gal pals called me)so I call them potato pancakes. Here is a recipe from Food Network for apple latkes. The menorah will be lit each night of Hanukkah.
Gift-giving is not a traditional part of the holiday. It is unusual to give Hanukkah gifts to anyone other than their own young children. The only traditional gift of the holiday is “gelt,” small amounts of money.
Met a lady in the grocery line who was purchasing a dreidel set- she was a school teacher and the kids love to play, so she was buying them a set. It is a gambling game played with a square top. Most people play for matchsticks, pennies, M&Ms or chocolate coins. The traditional explanation of this game is that during the time of Antiochus’ oppression, those who wanted to study Torah (an illegal activity) would conceal their activity by playing gambling games with a top whenever an official or inspector was within sight. Very similiar to why the Chirstians used Christmas Carols, like the “Twelve Days of Christmas” (reference my xmas card on my Blog yesterday)
A dreidel is marked with four Hebrew letters; Nun, Gimel, Hei and Shin. The letters also stand for the Yiddish words nit (nothing), gantz (all), halb (half) and shtell (put), which are the rules of the game! A person spins the dreidel. If it lands on Nun, nothing happens; on Gimel, you get the whole pot; on Hei, you get half of the pot; and on Shin, you put one in. When the pot is empty, everybody puts one in. Keep playing until one person has everything. My kids know of the Dreidel, so I hope to play the game tomorrow with them. If you have lil ones, Sesame Street has a great site called Shalom Sesame.org dedicated to learning more about Hanukkah.
Here is a picture of our community Menorah- the lighting is at 6pm tonight. I have been before and will try and go again with the kids to teach them about other faiths.
Overall, we are all one in this world, so to be able to share our faith traditions is just another wonderful way to celebrate life!