Happy Hanukkah 2015

This year, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah began on Sunday, December 6 at sunset and ends on Monday, December 14 at nightfall. The Hanukkah celebration tends to be informal and is based on custom rather than formal religious law.

Hanukkah commemorates the defeat of Antiochus, who tried to prevent the Jewish people from practicing Judaism and insisted they must worship Greek Gods. In 165 BC, after three hard years of fighting, the Maccabean Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Temple. The Temple was purified and the wicks of the menorah miraculously burned for eight days, even though there was only enough sacred oil for one day’s lighting.

Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication. The festival is observed by the igniting of the lights of a nine-branched menorah, one for each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The extra light, with which the others are lit, is given a distinct location, usually above the rest.

Hanukkah activities include playing dreidel (a four-sided spinning top) and eating oil-based foods such as doughnuts and latkes (potato pancakes). “Hanukkah Gelt” – literally “Hanukkah money,” which can be real money as well as chocolate coins – is traditionally given to children. Many families also exchange small gifts each night, such as books or games.

Play the Virtual Dreidel Game at SpinTheDreidel.com. (Requires Flash plug-in.)

Try these Hanukkah Recipes from the Jewish Outreach Institute.

Activity Village has lots of Hanukkah crafts, printables and puzzle fun for kids.

Learn how to play the Dreidel game at TorahTots.com, a site for Jewish children.

Did You Know…? Many of America’s favorite Christmas songs were written by Jewish composers, including “Let It Snow,” “Winter Wonderland,” “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),” “White Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Silver Bells,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Read more>>>

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