Holyday Thoughts – Chanukah 5770 By Rabbis Jeremy Gerber and Corey Helfand Tonight, in addition to it being Shabbat, we also celebrate the first night of Chanukah/Hanukah/Hanukkah/ .חנוכהI would like to thank Rabbi Jeremy Gerber for creating this last year. While I have updated and added to it, the genius and credit go to Rabbi Jeremy. I sincerely thank Rabbi Jeremy for his creativity, sense of humor, and hard work. I hope that you enjoy this special edition of Holyday Thoughts inspired by Rabbi Jeremy and with my some of my additions, along with a little bit of info, songs, recipes, and other stuff about your favorite Jewish holidays! Index: In this issue you’ll find I. Chanukah 411 II. Dear Yenta III. Your favorite Chanukah tunes IV. Chanukah How To: The Rituals V. Tasty Treats VI. Fun, Games, and More! I. The 411 on Chanukah: all you need to know! 1. What does the name mean? Chanukah (feel free to make up your own spelling, most people do!) probably comes from the Hebrew three-letter root that means “to dedicate” or “to educate.” This is in reference to the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem (see below). Chanukah is also known as the Festival of Lights, because of the many candles that we light on the holiday. 2. Where does the holiday come from? Chanukah celebrates two different events, both of which took place in 165 BCE. The first was a military victory of the Jews, led by Judah Maccabee (meaning “Judah the Hammer”), over their Seleucid, Hellenistic oppressors and their king, Antiochus IV. Antiochus had outlawed the Jewish religion, ordered the erection of a statue to Zeus INSIDE the Temple, and commanded sacrificing pigs in the Temple! The victory of the Maccabees was the first miracle of Chanukah. The second followed right away, when the Jews were rededicating and cleaning the Temple. They found that only a small amount of pure oil had survived the destruction, and they believed they wouldn’t be able to keep the Menorah, the large candelabra, in the Temple lit for the full eight days it would take to bring new oil. Miraculously, the oil that they had lasted the full eight days, and the Menorah remained lit! 3. How do we greet one another? The traditional greeting is “Chanukah Sameach,” which means “Happy Chanukah!” There is also a practice of saying “Chag Urim Sameach,” which means “Happy Festival of Lights” Some people also say “Chag Sameach,” which means “Happy holiday,” which is also fine. 4. When do we celebrate Chanukah? The Jewish calendar follows the moon, known as a lunar calendar, instead of the sun (a solar calendar). Therefore, the holidays in the Jewish year always land on the same date in the Jewish calendar, but not on the same date in our secular, Gregorian calendar. Chanukah always falls on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, but the two calendars don’t exactly line up. II. Your favorite Chanukah tunes Here are some fun songs that are connected to Chanukah, and the YouTube files where you can hear them sung! A. Chanukah Song O Chanukah, O Chanukah Come light the menorah Let’s have a party We’ll all dance the horah! Gather round the table We’ll give you a treat, Dreidels to play with And latkes to eat! And while we are playing The candles are burning low. One for each night They will shed a sweet light To remind us of days long ago. YouTube (the first 37 seconds): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRJzPJVzAy0&feature=related B. My Dreidel C. Sevivon (Hebrew for Dreidel) I have a little dreidel, Sevivon, sov sov sov I made it out of clay, Chanukah hu chag tov And when it’s dry and ready, Chanukah hu chag tov Then dreidel I will play! Sevivon, sov sov sov Chorus: Chag simcha hu la-am Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel Nes gadol ha-ya sham I made it out of clay Nes gadol ha-ya sham And when it’s dry and ready Chag simcha hu la-am Oh dreidel I shall play! It has a lovely body Translation: With legs so short and thin Dreidel, spin, spin, spin!! And when it gets all tired Chanuka is a great holiday It drops and then I WIN! It is a festival of joy for the Jewish Chorus people My dreidel’s always playful, A great miracle happened there (in It loves to dance and spin Israel). A happy game of dreidel Come play now, let’s begin! Chorus (Rockapella version!): YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K v=ZTbbUT_kr8c WFqfcpDWY4&feature=related D. Chanukah Song (It’s made of legos!) O Chanukah, O Chanukah Come light the menorah Let’s have a party We’ll all dance the horah! Gather round the table We’ll give you a treat, Dreidels to play with And latkes to eat! And while we are playing The candles are burning low. One for each night They will shed a sweet light To remind us of days long ago. YouTube (the first 37 seconds): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRJzPJVzAy0&feature=related E. Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song I’m not including the lyrics, but it’s a very funny song to listen to. You can watch it on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Hmr5YOewww III. Dear Yenta Dear Yenta, I really don’t get what’s so special about Chanukah. The story’s really about a small band of rebels who manage to defeat the government by hiding in the mountains and ambushing them. Guerilla warfare tactics, however successful they might have been, don’t seem like something we should be celebrating. So what’s all the fuss about? Sincerely, Extremely Left-Wing, Ultra-Liberal, Hippie-Wanna-Be Dear Wanna-Be, Let‟s get our story straight, shall we? The „government‟, aka the Greeks, didn‟t let the Jews practice their religion. (Which is somewhat ironic, since they had plenty of their own gods. You‟d think they‟d let us just have our one.) They also destroyed our Temple, brought in unkosher food, knocked things over, wrote vulgar Greek graffitti, that sort of thing. They were bad men. Very, very bad men. So „the fuss‟ is not really about successful guerilla tactics, but about standing up for what we believe in. Chanukah is a time for us to celebrate not only being Jewish, but living in a time and country where we‟re actually allowed to live Jewish lives. Dear Yenta, Although I was asleep for most of Hebrew school (I mean come on 9 am on a Sunday morning when I could be sleeping?) I do remember learning about the miracle of Chanukah. The whole oil burning for eight days instead of one thing, and lighting one candle for each day in commemoration. So we had this menorah lighting shindig on a boat while sailing out on Lake Norman, and my friend said that we had to light the candles in the window of the ship. I’d never heard that before. Is that true, or was my friend just being bossy? Yours truly, Wishing for Enlightenment Dear Enlightenment, However bossy your friend may normally be, he was right this time. Chanukah is not only a time when we rejoice in being Jewish (we should be doing that every day), but also a time when we want to show the whole world who we are. Lighting the menorah or chanukiah as it‟s called in Hebrew, is a way of publicizing the miracle that happened over 2000 years ago. It‟s a way of shouting out to the world “I‟m a Jew, and darn proud of it!” IV. The Chanukah “How To”: Rituals for lighting the Menorah First of all, it’s really not supposed to be called a Menorah! Menorah has a total of seven “arms,” three on either side and one taller one in the middle, and it was used in the Temple in Jerusalem (see picture on the right). What we use today is a special version of the Menorah designed for Chanukah, called a Chanukiah (you can spell that one however you want too!). It has nine arms, four on either side and one in the middle (see picture on the left). The middle one (or at the far end, doesn’t matter where it’s located, just that it’s separate from the other eight!) is called the “Shamash” or “Shames.” The Shames is the helper, the one that lights the others. You should light the Shames first, and use it to light the other candles. The first candle to be lit is the one at the far right. Just one candle on the first day, and the Shames. On the second day, we add a second candle, and always light the newest candle FIRST! So we start at the right end and add to the left, but we light the one furthest to the left first and move down the row to the right. Make sense? On the first night of Chanukah, we recite all three blessings. On the seven remaining blessings, we only recite the first two. Since the first night of Chanukah begins on Shabbat, remember to light the Chanukah candles first and then use the Shamash to light the Shabbat candles. Candle lighting in Lake Norman is at 4:53 pm. (check your local listings for a Shabbat time near you!) On Saturday night, we do havdallah first to officially end Shabbat and then we proceed with lighting the Chanukah candles. Baruch atah Adonai eloheinu melech ha'olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik neir shel Chanukah. Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, whose mitzvoth add holiness to our life and who gave us the mitzvah to light the lights of Chanukah. Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha‟olam She‟asah nisim la‟avoteinu Ba-yamim haheim baz‟man ha-zeh. Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who accomplished miracles for our ancestors in ancient days, and in our time. Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam She‟hecheyanu v‟kiy‟manu V‟higiyanu lazman ha-zeh. Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, for granting us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this day. V. Tasty Treats Food – It is customary on Chanukah to eat foods that are fried in oil, to commemorate the miracle surrounding oil on this holiday. In particular, we eat the following two favorites! Latkes. These are potato pancakes. Also known as “Levivot” in Hebrew (“Latkes” is Yiddish). Traditionally, they are eaten with sour cream and applesauce, but a lot of people have their own crazy family customs that they add to it. I’m a traditionalist myself. (See below for recipes.) Sufganiyot. Basically, jelly donuts. It could be any type of donut, but traditionally the Jews have gone with jelly donuts, because…. Why not? You can find tons and tons of great recipes for latkes (the potato pancakes) out there, in most Jewish cookbooks and anywhere online! This, however, is the one place where you are going to find the famous Gerber-family latke recipe! Ingredients: 6-8 potatoes 2 eggs 1 Tbsp flour pinch of pepper 1 tsp salt ¼ tsp baking powder 1 lg. onion oil for frying Procedure: 1. Peel and grate potatoes into a large bowl. Pour off the liquid. 2. Grate the onion and combine with potatoes 3. Add flour, salt, pepper, and eggs. Mix well. 4. Add baking powder and mix well. 5. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add tablespoons of the potato mixture to the pan and fry on both sides until brown. 6. Place the fried latkes on paper towel to get rid of excess oil. 7. Serve hot with apple sauce and sour cream. VI. Fun, Games, and More! Games – There is one primary game that is VERY important to play on Chanukah! It is called Dreidel, which is Yiddish, and it refers to the spinning top. It is pretty easy to learn how to spin it, but when you get really good, you can spin it upside down too! The four sides of the top each have a Hebrew letter on it. These are the letters Nun, Gimmel, Hay, and Shin (or Pey if you’re in Israel). They stand for the phrase, Nes Gadol Haya Sham, which means “A great miracle happened there (in Israel).” In Israel, they replace the last letter with a Pey, for the word “Poh,” meaning “here.” See below for game rules. Gift giving – Is definitely of major importance in the modern celebration of Chanukah! Originally, the tradition associated with Chanukah was to give “gelt,” or coins, on Chanukah. Today, we still have a reminder of this, in the piles of chocolate coins that are given on Chanukah! Since the middle of the 20th Century, giving presents has also become a big part of the Chanukah celebration. This was started primarily in North America, as a response to the gift giving associated with Christmas. It is interesting, however, that in borrowing this ritual from the Christians, we are avoiding the temptation to assimilate out of Judaism and observe someone else’s holidays. This is indeed very much in line with the spirit of Chanukah, because the Maccabees found their own way of resisting assimilation into the Greek culture around them. They adopted some Greek customs, but made them Jewish, much like we’ve done with giving presents today! There is one game that is an essential part of the Chanukah celebration, and it is almost a religious requirement that you play at least one game of Dreidel on Chanukah!! This is how the game works: What you will need: o One Dreidel (spinning top) o Some type of game “currency,” usually raisins, chocolate, or almonds. Have a whole bag at your disposal. o Minimum of two players, but really it’s more fun with three, four, or more! o A hard, smooth surface to play on. The rules: o Each person gets the same amount of raisins/chocolate/almonds, approximately 30. o At the start, each person antes 5 pieces into the pot. o Then, each player gets a turn, and based on which side of the Dreidel comes up, has to do one of the following: Nun, looks like this ,נnothing happens and it’s the next person’s turn. Gimmel, looks like this ,גyou win the whole pot, everyone re-antes, and it’s the next person’s turn. Hay, looks like this ,הyou win half the pot, the rest remains, and it’s the next person’s turn. Shin, looks like this ,שyou have to ante 5 more into the pot. o You keep playing until one person has won all the raisins/almonds or everyone gets bored and you stop.