Photo copy stand lights


For other uses, see.

Hanukkah table

Hanukkah ( ; : חֲנֻכָּה‬ khanuká, : khanuká, usually spelled חנוכה‎, pronounced in, or in ; a transliteration also as Chanukah or Ḥanukah) is a commemorating the rededication of the in at the time of the against the. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of according to the, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.

The festival is observed by photo copy stand lights lighting the candles of a with nine branches, called a (or hanukkiah). One branch is typically placed above or below the others and its candle is used to light the other eight candles. This unique candle is called the (: שמש‎, "attendant"). Each night, one additional candle is lit by the shamash until all eight candles are lit together on the final night of the holiday. Other Hanukkah festivities include playing and eating oil-based foods such as doughnuts and. Since the 1970s, the worldwide movement has initiated public menorah lightings in open public places in many countries.

Contents

Etymology

The name "Hanukkah" derives from the Hebrew verb "חנך‎", meaning "to dedicate". On Hanukkah, the Maccabean Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Temple. Many explanations have been given for the name:

  • The name can be broken down into חנו כ"ה, "[they] rested [on the] twenty-fifth", referring to the fact that the Jews ceased fighting on the 25th day of, the day on which the holiday begins.
  • חנוכה‎ (Hanukkah) is also the Hebrew for ח נרות והלכה כבית הלל — "Eight candles, and the is like the House of Hillel". This is a reference to the disagreement between two rabbinical schools of thought — the and the — on the proper order in which to light the Hanukkah flames. Shammai opined that eight candles should be lit on the first night, seven on the second night, and so on down to one on the last night (because the miracle was greatest on the first day). Hillel argued in favor of starting with one candle and lighting an additional one every night, up to eight on the eighth night (because the miracle grew in greatness each day). adopted the position of Hillel.

Alternative spellings

Spelling variations due to transliteration of Hebrew Chet Nun Vav Kaf Hey

In, the word Hanukkah is written חֲנֻכָּה‬ or חנוכה‎ (Ḥănukkāh). It is most commonly to English as Chanukah or Hanukkah, the latter because the sound represented by "CH" ([], similar to the pronunciation of "") is not native to the English language. Furthermore, the letter "" (ח‎), which is the first letter in the Hebrew spelling, is pronounced differently in modern Hebrew () from in classical Hebrew ( []), and neither of those sounds is unambiguously representable in English spelling. Moreover, the 'kaf' consonant is in classical (but not modern) Hebrew. Adapting the classical Hebrew pronunciation with the geminate and pharyngeal Ḥeth can lead to the spelling "Hanukkah"; while adapting the modern Hebrew pronunciation with no gemination and uvular Ḥeth leads to the spelling "Chanukah".[]

Historical sources

Maccabees, Mishna, and Talmud

lights

See also:

The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of the and, which describe in detail the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the lighting of the. These books are not part of the (Hebrew Bible) which came from the Palestinian canon; however, they were part of the Alexandrian canon which is also called the (sometimes abbreviated LXX). Both books are included in the used by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, since those churches consider the books deuterocanonical. They are not included in the books in most Bibles since most Protestants consider the books apocryphal. Multiple references to Hanukkah are also made in the (Bikkurim 1:6, Rosh HaShanah 1:3, Taanit 2:10, Megillah 3:4 and 3:6, Moed Katan 3:9, and Bava Kama 6:6), though specific laws are not described. The miracle of the one-day supply of oil miraculously lasting eight days is first described in the, committed to writing about 600 years after the events described in the books of Maccabees.

postulates in his Hakdamah Le'mafteach Hatalmud that information on the holiday was so commonplace that the Mishna felt no need to explain it. A modern-day scholar suggests that as the Mishnah was redacted after the, its editors were reluctant to include explicit discussion of a holiday celebrating another relatively recent revolt against a foreign ruler, for fear of antagonizing the Romans.

Hanukkah lamp unearthed near Jerusalem about 1900

The (), in tractate Shabbat, page 21b, focuses on and moves to Hanukkah candles and says that after the forces of had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that almost all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned. They found only a single container that was still by the, with enough oil to keep the menorah in the Temple lit for a single day. They used this, yet it burned for eight days (the time it took to have new oil pressed and made ready).

The Talmud presents three options:

  1. The law requires only one light each night per household,
  2. A better practice is to light one light each night for each member of the household
  3. The most preferred practice is to vary the number of lights each night.

Except in times of danger, the lights were to be placed outside one's door, on the opposite side of the, or in the window closest to the street., in a note to Shabbat 21b, says their purpose is to publicize the miracle. The blessings for Hanukkah lights are discussed in tractate Succah, p. 46a.

Narrative of Josephus

The Jewish historian narrates in his book, XII, how the victorious ordered lavish yearly eight-day festivities after rededicating the Temple in Jerusalem that had been profaned by. Josephus does not say the festival was called Hanukkah but rather the "Festival of Lights":

"Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon; but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival. Judas also rebuilt the walls round about the city, and reared towers of great height against the incursions of enemies, and set guards therein. He also fortified the city, that it might serve as a citadel against any distresses that might come from our enemies."

Other ancient sources

The story of Hanukkah is alluded to in the book of and. The eight-day rededication of the temple is described in, though the name of the festival and the miracle of the lights do not appear here. A story similar in character, and obviously older in date, is the one alluded to in according to which the relighting of the altar fire by was due to a miracle which occurred on the 25th of Kislev, and which appears to be given as the reason for the selection of the same date for the rededication of the altar by Judah Maccabee.[] The above account in 1 Maccabees 4, as well as portrays the feast as a delayed observation of the eight-day Feast of Booths ()"; similarly explains the length of the feast as "in the manner of the Feast of Booths".

Another source is the. This work (also known as "Megillat Benei Ḥashmonai", "Megillat Hanukkah", or "Megillat Yevanit") is extant in both the and languages; the Hebrew version is a literal translation from the Aramaic original. Recent scholarship dates it to somewhere between the 2nd and 5th Centuries, probably in the 2nd century, with the Hebrew dating to the 7th century. It was published for the first time in in 1557., who translated it into in the 9th century, ascribed it to the elders of the and the. The Hebrew text with an English translation can be found in the of.

The Scroll of Antiochus concludes with the following words:

...After this, the sons of Israel went up to the Temple and rebuilt its gates and purified the Temple from the dead bodies and from the defilement. And they sought after pure to light the lamps therewith, but could not find any, except one bowl that was sealed with the signet ring of the High Priest from the days of Samuel the prophet and they knew that it was pure. There was in it [enough oil] to light [the lamps therewith] for one day, but the God of heaven whose name dwells there put therein his blessing and they were able to light from it eight days. Therefore, the sons of Ḥashmonai made this covenant and took upon themselves a solemn vow, they and the sons of Israel, all of them, to publish amongst the sons of Israel, [to the end] that they might observe these eight days of joy and honour, as the days of the feasts written in [the book of] the Law; [even] to light in them so as to make known to those who come after them that their God wrought for them salvation from heaven. In them, it is not permitted to mourn, neither to decree a fast [on those days], and anyone who has a vow to perform, let him perform it.

Original language (Aramaic):

בָּתַר דְּנָּא עָלוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְבֵית מַקְדְּשָׁא וּבְנוֹ תַּרְעַיָּא וְדַכִּיאוּ בֵּית מַקְדְּשָׁא מִן קְטִילַיָּא וּמִן סְאוֹבֲתָא. וּבעוֹ מִשְׁחָא דְּזֵיתָא דָּכְיָא לְאַדְלָקָא בּוֹצִנַיָּא וְלָא אַשְׁכַּחוּ אֵלָא צְלוֹחִית חֲדָא דַּהֲוָת חֲתִימָא בְּעִזְקָת כָּהֲנָא רַבָּא מִיּוֹמֵי שְׁמוּאֵל נְבִיָּא וִיַדְעוּ דְּהִיא דָּכְיָא. בְּאַדְלָקוּת יוֹמָא חֲדָא הֲוָה בַּהּ וַאֲלָה שְׁמַיָּא דִּי שַׁכֵין שְׁמֵיהּ תַּמָּן יְהַב בַּהּ בִּרְכְּתָא וְאַדְלִיקוּ מִנַּהּ תְּמָנְיָא יוֹמִין. עַל כֵּן קַיִּימוּ בְּנֵי חַשְׁמוּנַּאי הָדֵין קְיָימָא וַאֲסַרוּ הָדֵין אֲסָּרָא אִנּוּן וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כּוּלְּהוֹן. לְהוֹדָעָא לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְמֶעֲבַד הָדֵין תְּמָנְיָא יוֹמִין חַדְוָא וִיקָר כְּיּוֹמֵי מוֹעֲדַיָּא דִּכְתִיבִין בְּאוֹרָיְתָא לְאַדְלָקָא בְּהוֹן לְהוֹדָעָא לְמַן דְּיֵּיתֵי מִבַּתְרֵיהוֹן אֲרֵי עֲבַד לְהוֹן אֱלָהֲהוֹן פּוּרְקָנָא מִן שְׁמַיָּא. בְּהוֹן לָא לְמִסְפַּד וְלָא לְמִגְזַר צוֹמָא וְכָל דִּיהֵי עֲלוֹהִי נִדְרָא יְשַׁלְּמִנֵּיהּ

In the, 10:22–23 says Jesus walked in at the during "the Feast of Dedication and it was winter." The Greek term that is used is "the renewals" (Greek ta enkainia τὰ ἐγκαίνια). The Hebrew word for "dedication" is Hanukkah. The Aramaic New Testament uses the Aramaic word Khawdata (a close synonym), which literally means "renewal" or "to make new." refers to the festival as "lights."

Story

Background

Further information:

was part of the of Egypt until 200 when King of defeated King of Egypt at the. Judea then became part of the of Syria. King wanting to conciliate his new Jewish subjects guaranteed their right to "live according to their ancestral customs" and to continue to practice their religion in the Temple of Jerusalem. However, in 175 BCE,, the son of Antiochus III, invaded Judea, at the request of the sons of Tobias. The, who led the in Jerusalem, were expelled to Syria around 170 BCE when the high priest and his pro-Egyptian faction wrested control from them. The exiled Tobiads lobbied Antiochus IV Epiphanes to recapture Jerusalem. As Flavius Josephus relates:

The king being thereto disposed beforehand, complied with them, and came upon the Jews with a great army, and took their city by force, and slew a great multitude of those that favored Ptolemy, and sent out his soldiers to plunder them without mercy. He also spoiled the temple, and put a stop to the constant practice of offering a daily sacrifice of expiation for three years and six months.

Traditional view

High Priest pouring oil over the menorah, Jewish new year card

When the in Jerusalem was looted and services stopped, was outlawed. In 167 BCE, ordered an altar to erected in the Temple. He banned (circumcision) and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple.

Antiochus's actions provoked a large-scale. (Mattityahu), a, and his five sons,,,, and led a rebellion against Antiochus. It started with Mattathias killing first, a Jew who wanted to comply with Antiochus's order to sacrifice to Zeus, and then a Greek official who was to enforce the government's behest (1 Mac. 2, 24–25). Judah became known as Yehuda HaMakabi ("Judah the Hammer"). By 166 BCE Mattathias had died, and Judah took his place as leader. By 165 BCE the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated. The festival of Hanukkah was instituted to celebrate this event. Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the (high priest) was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night. The story goes that one flask was found with only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight-day festival was declared by the Jewish sages to commemorate this miracle.

The version of the story in 1 Maccabees states that an eight-day celebration of songs and sacrifices was proclaimed upon re-dedication of the altar, and makes no specific mention of the miracle of the oil.

Academic sources

personnel light candles on Hanukkah

Some modern scholars argue that the king was intervening in an internal between the Jews and the Jews in Jerusalem.

These competed violently over who would be the High Priest, with traditionalists with Hebrew/Aramaic names like contesting with Hellenizing High Priests with Greek names like and. In particular, Jason's Hellenistic reforms would prove to be a decisive factor leading to eventual conflict within the ranks of Judaism. Other authors point to possible socioeconomic reasons in addition to the religious reasons behind the civil war.

What began in many respects as a civil war escalated when the Hellenistic kingdom of Syria sided with the in their conflict with the traditionalists. As the conflict escalated, Antiochus took the side of the Hellenizers by prohibiting the religious practices the traditionalists had rallied around. This may explain why the king, in a total departure from Seleucid practice in all other places and times, banned a traditional religion.

The miracle of the oil is widely regarded as a legend and its authenticity has been questioned since the Middle Ages. However, given the famous question Rabbi posed concerning why Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days when the miracle was only for seven days (since there was enough oil for one day), it was clear that he believed it was a historical event. This belief has been adopted by most of Orthodox Judaism, in as much as Rabbi Karo's is a main Code of Jewish Law.

Timeline

Further information:

  • 198 BCE: Armies of the Seleucid King (Antiochus the Great) oust from and.
  • 175 BCE: (Epiphanes) ascends the Seleucid throne.
  • 168 BCE: Under the reign of Antiochus IV, the is looted, Jews are massacred, and is outlawed.
  • 167 BCE: Antiochus orders an altar to erected in the Temple. and his five sons John,,,, and lead against Antiochus. Judah becomes known as Judah Maccabee ("Judah the Hammer").
  • 166 BCE: Mattathias dies, and Judah takes his place as leader. The begins; It lasts until 63 BCE.
  • 165 BCE: The Jewish revolt against the monarchy is successful in recapturing the Temple, which is liberated and rededicated (Hanukkah).
  • 142 BCE: Re-establishment of the. The Seleucids recognize Jewish autonomy. The Seleucid kings have a formal overlordship, which the Hasmoneans acknowledged. This inaugurates a period of population growth and religious, cultural and social development. This included the conquest of the areas now covered by,,, and (also known as ), and the forced conversion of Idumeans to the Jewish religion, including circumcision.
  • 139 BCE: The recognizes Jewish autonomy.
  • 134 BCE: besieges. The Jews under become Seleucid vassals but retain religious autonomy.
  • 129 BCE: Antiochus VII dies. The Jewish Kingdom throws off Syrian rule completely
  • 96 BCE: Beginning of an eight-year civil war between king and the.
  • 85–82 BCE: Consolidation of the Kingdom in territory east of the.
  • 63 BCE: The Hasmonean Jewish Kingdom comes to an end because of a rivalry between the brothers and, both of whom appeal to the to intervene and settle the power struggle on their behalf. The Roman general (Pompey the Great) is dispatched to the area. 12 thousand Jews are massacred in the Roman. The Priests of the Temple are struck down at the Altar. Rome annexes Judea.

Battles of the Maccabean Revolt

Main article:

Selected battles between the and the Seleucid Syrian-Greeks:

Characters and heroes

Main article:

  • , also referred to as Mattathias and Mattathias ben Johanan. Matityahu was a Jewish High Priest who, together with his five sons, played a central role in the story of Hanukkah.
  • , also referred to as Judas Maccabeus and Y'hudhah HaMakabi. Judah was the eldest son of Matityahu and is acclaimed as one of the greatest warriors in Jewish history alongside,, and.
  • , also referred to as Eleazar Avaran, Eleazar Maccabeus and Eleazar Hachorani/Choran.
  • , also referred to as Simon Maccabeus and Simon Thassi.
  • , also referred to as Johanan Maccabeus and John Gaddi.
  • , also referred to as Jonathan Apphus.
  • . Seleucid emperor controlling the region during this period.
  • . Acclaimed for her heroism in the assassination of.
  • . Arrested, tortured and killed one by one, by for refusing to bow to an idol.

Rituals

Chanukah Menorah opposite Nazi building in Berlin, December 1932.

Hanukkah is celebrated with a series of rituals that are performed every day throughout the 8-day holiday, some are family-based and others communal. There are special additions to the, and a section is added to the.

Hanukkah is not a "Sabbath-like" holiday, and there is no obligation to refrain from, as specified in the. Adherents go to work as usual but may leave early in order to be home to kindle the lights at nightfall. There is no religious reason for schools to be closed, although in Israel schools close from the second day for the whole week of Hanukkah. Many families exchange gifts each night, such as books or games, and "Hanukkah Gelt" is often given to children. Fried foods (such as latkes (), jelly doughnuts (), and ) are eaten to commemorate the importance of oil during the celebration of Hanukkah. Some also have a custom of eating dairy products to remember and how she overcame by feeding him cheese, which made him thirsty, and giving him wine to drink. When Holofernes became very drunk, Judith.

Kindling the Hanukkah lights

Further information: and

Boy in front of a menorah Hanukkah lights in the dark

Each night throughout the 8 day holiday, a candle or oil-based light is lit. As a universally practiced "beautification" () of the, the number of lights lit is increased by one each night. An extra light called a shamash, meaning "attendant" or "sexton," is also lit each night, and is given a distinct location, usually higher, lower, or to the side of the others.

Among the tendency is for every male member of the household (and in many families, girls as well) to light a full set of lights each night, while among the prevalent custom is to have one set of lights for the entire household.

The purpose of the shamash is to adhere to the prohibition, specified in the Talmud (Tractate Shabbat 21b–23a), against using the Hanukkah lights for anything other than publicizing and meditating on the Hanukkah miracle. This differs from candles which are meant to be used for illumination and lighting. Hence, if one were to need extra illumination on Hanukkah, the shamash candle would be available, and one would avoid using the prohibited lights. Some, especially Ashkenazim, light the shamash candle first and then use it to light the others. So altogether, including the shamash, two lights are lit on the first night, three on the second and so on, ending with nine on the last night, for a total of 44 (36, excluding the shamash). It is Sephardic custom not to light the shamash first and use it to light the rest. Instead, the shamash candle is the last to be lit, and a different candle or a match is used to light all the candles. Some Hasidic Jews follow this Sephardic custom as well.

The lights can be candles or oil lamps. Electric lights are sometimes used and are acceptable in places where open flame is not permitted, such as a hospital room, or for the very elderly and infirm; however, those who permit reciting a blessing over electric lamps only allow it if it is incandescent and battery operated (an incandescent flashlight would be acceptable for this purpose), while a blessing may not be recited over a plug-in menorah or lamp. Most Jewish homes have a special referred to as either a Chanukiah (the modern Israeli term) or a menorah (the traditional name, simply Hebrew for 'lamp'). Many families use an oil lamp (traditionally filled with olive oil) for Hanukkah. Like the candle Chanukiah, it has eight wicks to light plus the additional shamash light.

In the United States, Hanukkah became a more visible festival in the from the 1970s when Rabbi called for public awareness and observance of the festival and encouraged the lighting of. Diane Ashton attributed the increased visibility and reinvention of Hanukkah by some of the American Jewish community as a way to adapt to American life, re-inventing the festival in "the language of individualism and personal conscience derived from both Protestantism and the Enlightenment".

The reason for the Hanukkah lights is not for the "lighting of the house within", but rather for the "illumination of the house without," so that passersby should see it and be reminded of the holiday's miracle (i.e. that the sole cruse of pure oil found which held enough oil to burn for one night actually burned for eight nights). Accordingly, lamps are set up at a prominent window or near the door leading to the street. It is customary amongst some to have a separate menorah for each family member (customs vary), whereas most light one for the whole household. Only when there was danger of were lamps supposed to be hidden from public view, as was the case in under the rule of the, or in parts of Europe before and during World War II. However, most groups light lamps near an inside doorway, not necessarily in public view. According to this tradition, the lamps are placed on the opposite side from the, so that when one passes through the door s/he is surrounded by the holiness of (the ).[]

Generally, women are exempt in Jewish law from time-bound positive commandments, although the Talmud requires that women engage in the mitzvah of lighting Hanukkah candles “for they too were involved in the miracle.”

Candle-lighting time

Hanukkah lights should usually burn for at least half an hour after it gets dark. The custom of many is to light at sundown, although most Hasidim light later. Many Hasidic light much later to fulfill the obligation of publicizing the miracle by the presence of their Hasidim when they kindle the lights.

Inexpensive small wax candles sold for Hanukkah burn for approximately half an hour so should be lit no earlier than nightfall. Friday night presents a problem, however. Since candles may not be lit on itself, the candles must be lit before sunset. However, they must remain lit through the lighting of the Shabbat candles. Therefore, the Hanukkah menorah is lit first with larger candles than usual, followed by the. At the end of the Shabbat, there are those who light the Hanukkah lights before and those who make Havdalah before the lighting Hanukkah lights.

If for whatever reason one didn't light at sunset or nightfall, the lights should be kindled later, as long as there are people in the streets. Later than that, the lights should still be kindled, but the blessings should be recited only if there is at least somebody else awake in the house and present at the lighting of the Hannukah lights.

Blessings over the candles

See also:

Typically two blessings (brachot; singular: brachah) are recited during this eight-day festival when lighting the candles. On the first night, the blessing is added, making a total of three blessings.

The blessings are said before or after the candles are lit depending on tradition. On the first night of Hanukkah one light (candle or oil) is lit on the right side of the menorah, on the following night a second light is placed to the left of the first but it is lit first, and so on, proceeding from placing candles right to left but lighting them from left to right over the eight nights.

Blessing for lighting the candles

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר חֲנֻכָּה.‬

Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.

Translation: "Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah light[s]."

Blessing for the miracles of Hanukkah

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה.‬

Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam, she'asa nisim la'avoteinu ba'yamim ha'heim ba'z'man ha'ze.

Translation: "Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time..."

Hanerot Halalu

After the lights are kindled the hymn Hanerot Halalu is recited. There are several different versions; the version presented here is recited in many Ashkenazic communities:

Ashkenazi version: Hebrew Transliteration English

הנרות הללו אנו מדליקין על הנסים ועל הנפלאות ועל התשועות ועל המלחמות שעשית לאבותינו בימים ההם, בזמן הזה על ידי כהניך הקדושים. וכל שמונת ימי חנוכה הנרות הללו קודש הם, ואין לנו רשות להשתמש בהם אלא להאיר אותם בלבד כדי להודות ולהלל לשמך הגדול על נסיך ועל נפלאותיך ועל ישועותיך.

Hanneirot hallalu anu madlikin 'al hannissim ve'al hanniflaot 'al hatteshu'ot ve'al hammilchamot she'asita laavoteinu bayyamim haheim, (u)bazzeman hazeh 'al yedei kohanekha hakkedoshim. Vekhol-shemonat yemei Hanukkah hanneirot hallalu kodesh heim, ve-ein lanu reshut lehishtammesh baheim ella lir'otam bilvad kedei lehodot ul'halleil leshimcha haggadol 'al nissekha ve'al nifleotekha ve'al yeshu'otekha.

We kindle these lights for the miracles and the wonders, for the redemption and the battles that you made for our forefathers, in those days at this season, through your. During all eight days of Hanukkah these lights are, and we are not permitted to make ordinary use of them except for to look at them in order to express thanks and praise to Your great Name for Your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvations.

Maoz Tzur

Main article:

In the Ashkenazi tradition, each night after the lighting of the candles, the hymn is sung. The song contains six stanzas. The first and last deal with general themes of divine salvation, and the middle four deal with events of persecution in, and praises God for survival despite these tragedies ( from Egypt, the, the miracle of the holiday of, the victory), and a longing for the days when Judea will finally triumph over.

The song was composed in the thirteenth century by a poet only known through the acrostic found in the first letters of the original five stanzas of the song: Mordechai. The familiar tune is most probably a derivation of a German Protestant church hymn or a popular folk song.

Other customs

After lighting the candles and Ma'oz Tzur, singing other Hanukkah songs is customary in many Jewish homes. Some and Jews recite, such as,, and. In North America and in Israel it is common to exchange presents or give children presents at this time. In addition, many families encourage their children to give (charity) in lieu of presents for themselves.

Special additions to daily prayers

"We thank You also for the miraculous deeds and for the redemption and for the mighty deeds and the saving acts wrought by You, as well as for the wars which You waged for our ancestors in ancient days at this season. In the days of the Hasmonean Mattathias, son of Johanan the high priest, and his sons, when the iniquitous Greco-Syrian kingdom rose up against Your people Israel, to make them forget Your Torah and to turn them away from the ordinances of Your will, then You in your abundant mercy rose up for them in the time of their trouble, pled their cause, executed judgment, avenged their wrong, and delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and insolent ones into the hands of those occupied with Your Torah. Both unto Yourself did you make a great and holy name in Thy world, and unto Your people did You achieve a great deliverance and redemption. Whereupon your children entered the sanctuary of Your house, cleansed Your temple, purified Your sanctuary, kindled lights in Your holy courts, and appointed these eight days of Hanukkah in order to give thanks and praises unto Your holy name."

Translation of Al ha-Nissim

An addition is made to the "hoda'ah" (thanksgiving) benediction in the (thrice-daily prayers), called Al ha-Nissim ("On/about the Miracles"). This addition refers to the victory achieved over the Syrians by the Hasmonean Mattathias and his sons.

The same prayer is added to the grace after meals. In addition, the (praise) ( – ) are sung during each morning service and the penitential prayers are omitted.

The Torah is read every day in the morning services in, on the first day beginning from (according to some customs, ), and the last day ending with. Since Hanukkah lasts eight days it includes at least one, and sometimes two, (Saturdays). The weekly for the first Sabbath is almost always, telling of 's dream and his enslavement in. The reading for the first Sabbath Hanukkah is –. When there is a second Sabbath on Hanukkah, the Haftarah reading is from –.

The Hanukkah menorah is also kindled daily in the synagogue, at night with the blessings and in the morning without the blessings.

The menorah is not lit during Shabbat, but rather prior to the beginning of Shabbat as described above and not at all during the day. During the "" was read in the synagogues on Hanukkah just as the is read on. It still forms part of the liturgy of the.

Zot Hanukkah

The last day of Hanukkah is known by some as Zot Hanukkah and by others as Chanukat HaMizbeach, from the verse read on this day in the synagogue, Zot Hanukkat Hamizbe'ach: "This was the dedication of the altar". According to the teachings of and, this day is the final "seal" of the High Holiday season of and is considered a time to repent out of love for God. In this spirit, many Hasidic Jews wish each other Gmar chatimah tovah ("may you be sealed totally for good"), a traditional greeting for the Yom Kippur season. It is taught in Hasidic and Kabbalistic literature that this day is particularly auspicious for the fulfillment of prayers.

Other related laws and customs

It is customary for women not to work for at least the first half-hour of the candles' burning, and some have the custom not to work for the entire time of burning. It is also forbidden to fast or to eulogize during Hanukkah.

Customs

Music

Main article:

Radomsk Hasidic Ma'oz Tzur sheet music.

A large number of songs have been written on Hanukkah themes, perhaps more so than for any other Jewish holiday. Some of the best known are "" (Rock of Ages), "Latke'le Latke'le" (Yiddish song about cooking Latkes), "Hanukkiah Li Yesh" ("I Have a Hanukkah Menorah"), "" ("Eight Little Candles"), "Kad Katan" ("A Small Jug"), "S'vivon Sov Sov Sov" ("Dreidel, Spin and Spin"), "Haneirot Halolu" ("These Candles which we light"), "Mi Yimalel" ("Who can Retell") and "Ner Li, Ner Li" ("I have a Candle"). Among the most well known songs in English-speaking countries are "" and "".

Among the Rebbes of the dynasty, it is customary for the Rebbes to play after the menorah is lit.

's Hannukah Hymn published in the 1842 Hymns Written for the Use of Hebrew Congregations was instrumental in the beginning of Americanization of Hanukkah.

Foods

There is a custom of eating foods fried or baked in oil (preferably ) to commemorate the miracle of a small flask of oil keeping the 's alight for eight days. Traditional foods include, known as latkes in, especially among families. Sephardi,, and families eat jam-filled (: פאנטשקעס‎ ), (fritters) and which are in oil. Hungarian Jews eat cheese pancakes known as "cheese latkes".

Latkes are not popular in Israel, having been largely replaced by due to local economic factors, convenience and the influence of trade unions. Bakeries in Israel have popularized many new types of fillings for sufganiyot besides the traditional strawberry jelly filling, including chocolate cream, vanilla cream, caramel, cappuccino and others. In recent years, downsized, "mini" sufganiyot containing half the calories of the regular, 400-to-600-calorie version, have become popular.

Rabbinic literature also records a tradition of eating cheese and other dairy products during Hanukkah. This custom, as mentioned above, commemorates the heroism of during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews and reminds us that women also played an important role in the events of Hanukkah. The (Yehudit or Yehudis in Hebrew), which is not part of the, records that, an Assyrian general, had surrounded the village of Bethulia as part of his campaign to conquer Judea. After intense fighting, the water supply of the Jews was cut off and the situation became desperate. Judith, a pious widow, told the city leaders that she had a plan to save the city. Judith went to the Assyrian camps and pretended to surrender. She met Holofernes, who was smitten by her beauty. She went back to his tent with him, where she plied him with cheese and wine. When he fell into a drunken sleep, Judith beheaded him and escaped from the camp, taking the severed head with her (the has historically been a popular theme in art). When Holofernes' soldiers found his corpse, they were overcome with fear; the Jews, on the other hand, were emboldened and launched a successful counterattack. The town was saved, and the Assyrians defeated.

has historically been a traditional Hanukkah food among Eastern European and American Jews, although the custom has declined in recent decades.

Dreidel

Main article:

After lighting the candles, it is customary to play (or spin) the. The dreidel, or sevivon in Hebrew, is a four-sided spinning top that children play with during Hanukkah. Each side is imprinted with a Hebrew letter which is an abbreviation for the Hebrew words נס גדול היה שם‎ (Nes Gadol Haya Sham, "A great miracle happened there"), referring to the miracle of the oil that took place in the. On dreidels sold in Israel, the fourth side is inscribed with the letter פ‎ (), rendering the acronym נס גדול היה פה‎ (Nes Gadol Haya Po, "A great miracle happened here"), referring to the fact that the miracle occurred in the land of Israel, although this is a relatively recent innovation. Stores in neighborhoods sell the traditional Shin dreidels as well, because they understand "there" to refer to the Temple and not the entire Land of Israel, and because the Hasidic Masters ascribe significance to the traditional letters.

Hanukkah gelt

Main article:

( for "Chanukkah money") known in Israel by the Hebrew translation dmei Hanukkah, is often distributed to children during the festival of Hanukkah. The giving of Hanukkah gelt also adds to the holiday excitement. The amount is usually in small coins, although grandparents or relatives may give larger sums. The tradition of giving Chanukah gelt dates back to a long-standing East European custom of children presenting their teachers with a small sum of money at this time of year as a token of gratitude. One favors the fifth night of Hanukkah for giving Hanukkah gelt. Unlike the other nights of Hanukkah, the fifth does not ever fall on the Shabbat, hence never conflicting with the injunction against handling money on the.

Hanukkah in the White House

Main article:

President (left, back turned to camera) in the, receiving a Hanukkah Menorah as a gift from the Prime Minister of Israel, (center). To the right is, the Ambassador of Israel to the United States.

The United States has a history of recognizing and celebrating Hanukkah in a number of ways. The earliest Hanukkah link with the White House occurred in 1951 when Israeli Prime Minister presented United States President with a Hanukkah Menorah. In 1979 president took part in the first public Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony of the held across the White House lawn. In 1989, President displayed a menorah in the White House. In 1993, President invited a group of schoolchildren to the Oval Office for a small ceremony.

The has released several. In 1996 the (USPS) issued a 32 Hanukkah as a with. In 2004 after 8 years of reissuing the menorah design, the USPS issued a dreidel design for the Hanukkah stamp. The dreidel design was used through 2008. In 2009 a Hanukkah stamp was issued with a design featured a photograph of a menorah with nine lit candles.

In 2001, President held an official Hanukkah reception in the White House in conjunction with the candle-lighting ceremony, and since then this ceremony has become an annual tradition attended by Jewish leaders from around the country. In 2008, George Bush linked the occasion to the 1951 gift by using that menorah for the ceremony, with a grandson of Ben-Gurion and a grandson of Truman lighting the candles.

In December 2014, two Hanukkah celebrations were held at the White House. The commissioned a menorah made by students at the Max Rayne school in Israel and invited two of its students to join U.S. President and First Lady as they welcomed over 500 guests to the celebration. The students' school in Israel had been subjected to arson by extremists. President Obama said these "students teach us an important lesson for this time in our history. The light of hope must outlast the fires of hate. That’s what the Hanukkah story teaches us. It’s what our young people can teach us— that one act of faith can make a miracle, that love is stronger than hate, that peace can triumph over conflict.” Rabbi, in leading prayers at the ceremony commented on the how special the scene was, asking the President if he believed America's founding fathers could possibly have pictured that a female Asian-American rabbi would one day be at the White House leading Jewish prayers in front of the African-American president.

Dates

Further information:

The dates of Hanukkah are determined by the. Hanukkah begins at the 25th day of and concludes on the 2nd or 3rd day of (Kislev can have 29 or 30 days). The Jewish day begins at sunset. Hanukkah dates for recent and upcoming:

  • Sunset, 6 December 2015 – nightfall, 14 December 2015
  • Sunset, 24 December 2016 – nightfall, 1 January 2017
  • Sunset, 12 December 2017 – nightfall, 20 December 2017
  • Sunset, 2 December 2018 – nightfall, 10 December 2018
  • Sunset, 22 December 2019 – nightfall, 30 December 2019
  • Sunset, 10 December 2020 – nightfall, 18 December 2020
  • Sunset, 28 November 2021 – nightfall, 6 December 2021
  • Sunset, 18 December 2022 – nightfall, 26 December 2022

In 2013, on 28 November, the American holiday of fell during Hanukkah for only the third time since Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday by President. The last time was 1899; and due to the Gregorian and Jewish calendars being slightly out of sync with each other, it will not happen again in the foreseeable future. This convergence prompted the creation of the.

Symbolic importance

Second night of Hannukah at Jerusalem's

Major Jewish holidays are those when all forms of work are forbidden, and that feature traditional holiday meals, kiddush, holiday candle-lighting, etc. Only biblical holidays fit these criteria, and Chanukah was instituted some two centuries after the was completed. Nevertheless, though Chanukah is of rabbinic origin, it is traditionally celebrated in a major and very public fashion. The requirement to position the menorah, or Chanukiah, at the door or window, symbolizes the desire to give the Chanukah miracle a high-profile.

Some Jewish historians suggest a different explanation for the rabbinic reluctance to laud the militarism. First, the rabbis wrote after Hasmonean leaders had led Judea into Rome’s grip and so may not have wanted to offer the family much praise. Second, they clearly wanted to promote a sense of dependence on God, urging Jews to look toward the divine for protection. They likely feared inciting Jews to another revolt that might end in disaster, like the CE 135 experience.

With the advent of Zionism and the state of Israel, however, these themes were reconsidered. In modern Israel, the national and military aspects of Hanukkah became, once again, more dominant.

In North America especially, Hanukkah gained increased importance with many Jewish families in the latter part of the 20th century, including among large numbers of, who wanted a Jewish alternative to the celebrations that often overlap with Hanukkah. Though it was traditional among Ashkenazi Jews to give "gelt" or money to children during Hanukkah, in many families this has been supplemented with other gifts so that Jewish children can enjoy gifts just as their Christmas-celebrating peers do.

While Hanukkah is a relatively minor Jewish holiday, as indicated by the lack of religious restrictions on work other than a few minutes after lighting the candles, in North America, Hanukkah in the 21st century has taken a place equal to as a symbol of Jewish identity. Both the Israeli and North American versions of Hanukkah emphasize resistance, focusing on some combination of national liberation and religious freedom as the defining meaning of the holiday.

Some Jews in North America and Israel have taken up environmental concerns in relation to Hanukkah's "miracle of the oil", emphasizing reflection on and. An example of this is the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life's renewable energy campaign.

Gallery

An entire room of Paris's is dedicated to Hanukkah, through an exceptional collection of Hanukkiyot, in a variety of shapes and designs, origins and periods. This panorama stands as a metaphor for the great diversity of Jewish customs throughout the world.

  • France, 14th century

  • France, 16th century

  • Germany, 17th century

  • Italy, 18th century

  • Poland, 18th century

  • France, 19th century

  • Europe, 19th century

  • Yemen, 20th century

  • Tunisia, 20th century

  • Israel, 20th century

See also

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 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the : Kaufmann, Kohler (1901–1906).. In ; et al.. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company. 

Further reading

  • Ashton, Dianne (2013). Hanukkah in America: A History. New York: New York University Press.  . 

External links



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