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It's the 25th of Kislev ...

 
 
jespah
 
Reply Sat 24 Dec, 2005 11:30 pm
Huh? You ask. Well, it's Chanukah.

When does Chanukah fall? This year, it happens to fall on December 25th. Chanukah lasts 8 nights, so it'll be done early next year. The start date changes because Judaism is mainly on a lunar calendar, rather than a solar calendar, like the West (actually, Judaism is on what's called a lunisolar calendar, like in the Chinese system). But, since this does not jibe with what really happens to the earth, e. g. it can eventually end up that we have Spring holidays during Summer -- oopsie -- there's a leap month every 3 years. This is called an intercalary month. We just do a month all over again (it just so happens to be Adar. Why Adar? Well, why not? It's a nice month.).

Anyway, this was a standard, nonleap year, at least the part of the year that mostly coincided with 2005. But the current year, the one that started in September, actually is a leap. http://webexhibits.org/calendars/calendar-jewish.html

How do you celebrate Chanukah? Well, it involves lighting a menorah: http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday7.htm

http://www.printfree.com/Cards_Jewish/han01in_small.jpg <-- here's a menorah. But they can be lots of shapes and sizes, all you need is eight candle holders plus one taller or otherwise more prominent holder. This is for what's called the Shammus (leader) candle, from which the others are lit. You light one candle the first night (plus the Shammus; you light the Shammus with a match and then the first candle from the Shammus; then on the second night you light the Shammus with a match and then two candles from the Shammus, all the way up to eight. Hence there are always 44 candles in a standard package of Chanukah candles).

Isn't there more to the celebration? Well, that's it for the religious part. The rest is traditions. You spin a dreidel, you fry up foods for dinner, and you have Chanukah gelt. There is no specific requirement to go to synagogue.

How do you play the dreidel game? Here's a dreidel: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Hanukkah/TO_Hanukkah_Home/Dreidel/Dreidel_Rules_357_files/image002.jpghttp://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Hanukkah/TO_Hanukkah_Home/Dreidel/Dreidel_Rules_357_files/image004.jpg <-- there is a letter on each side. Each letter stands for what you get if the dreidel lands on a particular side. Plus, the letters stand for a phrase: Nes Gadol Haya Sham = A great miracle happened there.

Nun = you get nothing if the dreidel lands that way
Gimel = you get the entire pot
Heh = you get half of the pot
Sham = you share one token, candy or penny (whatever is the smallest unit of what you're betting) with all of your fellow players

From left to right, in the above picture, are the Shin, Heh, Gimel and Nun.

Why the fried foods? Well, the great miracle is that, after the Greeks and Syrians ransacked the great Temple in, erm, something like 165 BC, the oil was not pure. Why did anyone care about pure oil? Because of the Ner Tamid, the eternal light, which burns in every synagogue around the world. But you need pure oil for this. In any event, a small amount of oil was found, only enough for one day. But it would take eight days to purify more! What to do? Light the one day's worth of oil and hope for the best. And that's what happened -- the one day's worth was lit and the miracle was that it lasted for eight days rather than one. That's it? Yeah, that's it.

Hence frying foods in oil -- not only potato pancakes (latkes) http://www.rahul.net/clb/pix/latkes.jpg but also donuts -- is as a reminder of the oil used. It's also because it's tasty. Smile

But before the oil and all of that, what happened? There was a guy, Judah Maccabee http://www.jewishsource.com/images/p0014341B.JPG , and he had a bunch of brothers. And when the Greeks and Syrians came in, he and his brothers (and their father, Mattathias) decided they weren't going to take it any more. So they fought the Greco-Syrians and threw them out. Therefore the story is not just about oil, it's also about fighting for freedom. A few hundred years after that, the same thing was tried against the Romans, but without success, and the warriors ended up at Masada in AD 79, where they committed mass suicide.

What's Chanukah gelt? Milk chocolate wrapped in gold-colored foil, made to look like coins. It's often used to bet in the dreidel game.

Why are there so many ways to spell Chanukah? Chanukah, Chanukkah, Hanukka, Hanukkah, etc. etc. etc. you get the idea. About the only way not to spell Chanukah is Christmas. Smile This is because the word has a sound at the beginning which is not found in English. The sound is like a guttural, hard kh, like the q without a u at the beginning of Qaddaffi or the ch in the German expression Ach.

Is it an important holiday? Not really. It ended up being a gift-giving holiday more because of Christmas than anything else. If it happened in, say, May, it would not be too well-known, like Lag B'Omer, which is about as important and really does happen right around May every year. But it's not a bad holiday. It's a happy occasion, there is no fasting and there are no special dietary requirements (you don't absolutely have to have the fried foods if you don't want them). It's a pretty flexible celebration. Far more crucial holidays are Rosh Hashanah (New Year's) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).

Is it celebrated by all Jews? Yep, so far as I know. These two guys are Ethiopian, and they're as Jewish as I am. http://www.bramfoto.com/fotos/jewish/ethiopian_israeli_kids.jpg I bet they're lighting candles tonight, too.

What are traditional greetings? Happy Chanukah! Good Yontif! Chag Samayach! Yom Tov!

Let the party begin. http://alri.org/ltc/immigration/Groups/jewish/wedband.jpg http://alri.org/ltc/immigration/Groups/jewish/food/full_hardlox.jpg
http://www.syracusejewishfestival.com/timages/dancing1.jpg http://www.mirageband.tv/horadanc.jpg http://alri.org/ltc/immigration/Groups/jewish/food/pop_ny_nostalgia.jpg

Welcome, my friends, and have fun.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 15,085 • Replies: 164

 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 05:47 am
oooh, i'll take a plate of those blintzes, and just sit here quietly and enjoy the festivities


well maybe a latke or two, and wait is that lox over there.......

<mumbles incoherently through mouthful of food>
great party, good food, the best of the season to all
0 Replies
 
lmur
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 06:18 am
Happy Chanukah! Good Yontif! Chag Samayach! Yom Tov!

(from a lapsed Catholic who's dumped the religion but has hung onto the guilt).

Thanks for the education. Will I go to hell for reading it?
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 06:45 am
Oy veh, gas you will be getting!
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flyboy804
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 08:01 am
Another reason to use Adar as the repeat month is its ease of recognition from its frequent use (along with Elul) in crossword puzzles.
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sublime1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 08:10 am
Thanks for the synopsis Jespah, have a Happy Chanuka.
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Sturgis
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 08:14 am
a little gas never hoit anyone...


Happy Chanukah to one and all and the Jewish side of me will be remembering it for the next few days


How about a few Chanukah songs? Okay you talked me into it already but seeing as how my voice is not as good as the local Cantor's I will post for you a link, if it fails to go through may I never become a lawyer or fail to feel the guilt each day for the shame I will have bestowed upon my family for this dismal failure of mine.

Enough talk already just give us the link why don't you... Chanukah songs
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lmur
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 08:18 am
My b-i-l's from Afghanistan

just texted him with a happy Chanukah msg

it's important to spread the joy, don't you think?
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 10:03 am
Hell yeah! Smile

djjd62 - my Mom made great blitzes, until, for such a shonda, I learned they came from a box. But we love her anyway. I know the latkes are real, I made 'em myself. Or, at rate, I will tonight.

Thanks, lmur, love the hat. Hell? We don't have hell, we have paying retail. Oy! PS Hope you b-i-l is safe and sound, and the rest of your mishpocheh.

dlowan - gas, yes, we will be able to power a small rocket ship with such gas! Nu, we will be flying to Mars on such gas. But are there Jews on Mars?

flyboy804 - yes, crosswords! For such things Uma Thurman and Yma Sumac will never be forgotten. Have a bagel, you're starving yourself.

sublime1 - you're welcome, and happy holidays to you, a very lovely red tie you are wearing, such a well-dressed mensch you are.

Sturgis - yes, Chanukah songs, I had forgotten, I was busy running around trying to be a good balaboste. I, too, am not blessed with a cantor's voice, but I can hum a few bars if you will sing with me, my friend.

You should be well, and happy, and here, have a knish, they're freshly made, my grandmother's secret recipe, she took it to her grave it was so secret, we improvise it every year but it's never as good, maybe it's something to do with whatever was going into the water in North Miami Beach in the 1960s?
http://www.wegmans.com/ocs/images/product/it_153376.jpg
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 10:15 am
"dlowan - gas, yes, we will be able to power a small rocket ship with such gas! Nu, we will be flying to Mars on such gas. But are there Jews on Mars?"



I think so...isn't there some sort of Red Sea there somewhere?
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 10:18 am
Yes, I believe we can make allowances for that -- and perhaps the canali that Percival Lowell saw, maybe the Martians were parting their Red Sea? Over and over again? You know, enough with the practicing already.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 10:22 am
You mean they were partfectionists?
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husker
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 10:36 am
we do dreidel
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 10:47 am
Here, do up some dreideling. Is that a verb? I don't know, I'll ask the Martians, who were parevefectionists, able to go with either meat or dairy as the case may be.
0 Replies
 
flyboy804
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Dec, 2005 01:32 pm
"Eat, eat you're starving yourself; just a little more". Such familiar words.
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Dec, 2005 07:33 am
never dreidel "youll shoot yer eye out"

Were going to a lattke supper tomorrow and we wanna take something non-"chochkieish" whatya think about scarves for the host and hostess.?
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Bodhisattvawannabe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Dec, 2005 08:06 am
Happy Channukah! Very Happy

You want I should bring you some Pepto for that gas?
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Dec, 2005 09:04 am
Pepto is good.

farmerman, I answered on your tchotchkes topic, a few ideas -- kosher wine, maybe the fixins for latkes (sour cream and apple sauce, but something fancier than the usual stuff you can find in the grocery store). Would those work?

Bodhi, here, have a nice kosher pickle, I got it from the bottom of the barrel so it's the really good kind.
0 Replies
 
husker
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Dec, 2005 11:29 am
jespah so what's going on today? rest, sleep, eat...
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Dec, 2005 07:13 am
I'm working. Gotta get the potato money somehow. Smile
0 Replies
 
 

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