Did you know?
- The word חנוכה means dedication and is also connected to the word חנוך meaning education.
- Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Torah or the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) and is considered a minor Jewish festival.
- Our records of the Hanukkah story appear in a collection of books, the Book of Maccabees.
- The Maccabees’ fight for religious freedom from the decrees of King Antiochus’ also included conflict with Jews who had begun either reforming Jewish practices or assimilating Hellenistic Greek practices.
- The miracle of the oil in Temple’s Menorah burning for 8 days does not appear in the original Hanukkah story and was added by the rabbis of the Talmud hundreds of years later.
- One explanation for why Hanukkah lasts eight days is that following the rededication the Temple, the Jewish people observed the eight days of Sukkot, which they were unable to celebrate during the conflict.
- 1st Century BCE Rabbis, Hillel and Shammai, disagreed on how to light the Hanukkiah. Shammai taught we should begin with a full set of candles and remove one each day of the festival. Hillel taught an additional candle is added each day of the festival, as we seek to add to the holiness of the festival.
- Not all Jews play dreidel, eat gelt or give gifts. These are relatively recent customs of Ashkenazi and American Jewish communities.
- Sephardi Jews light a hanoukah, one per household and share the lighting of its candles amongst family members.
- Ashkenazi Jews light a hanukkiyah, with a tradition of having one hanukkiyah for each member of the household.
- The purpose of lighting the hanukkiyah is to publicly proclaim the miracle of Hanukkah, so it is customary to place the lit hanukkiyah in a doorway or window.
- Variations of fried food, beyond latkes and sufgainyot, are common Hanukkah custom amongst Jews of different lands.