The story of Chanukah is recorded in the Book of Maccabees and is presumed to have taken place in approximately 165 BCE. It is the first recorded fight for Religious Freedom.
Chanukah lasts for eight days beginning on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev (usually sometime in December) and is celebrated by lighting a chanukiah – a candelabra with places for nine candles, eight candles to represent the eight days of Chanukah and one candle called the shamash. Shamash means “helper” and this candle is used to light the other candles. The eight candles are meant strictly for enjoyment and beauty and should not be used to do any “work.” The hanukiah is often mistakenly called a menorah. Technically, a menorah has only seven places for candles and could not be used for Chanukah. Learn how to light a chanukiah.
In addition to lighting the Chanukiah, we sing songs, play the dreidel game, and eat latkes and jelly doughnuts.
At Temple Israel, we have a Congregational Dinner to celebrate Chanukah that includes lighting the menorah, delicious latkes, and a dreidel tournament. Often filled to capacity, reservations are required for the dinner. In the weeks leading up to Chanukah, we host a Creative Chanukiah Contest. Entries may be made out of any material, do not need to be functional, and should come with a description of your Chanukiah and the symbolism contained within it. Those who entered are recognized at our Congregational Dinner.
How do you spell Chanuka, Hanukah, Chanukah, Hanukkah?
The Hebrew aleph-bet does not use the same letters as the English alphabet; consequently, there is no “correct” way to spell this word in English. The best we can do is attempt to spell it phonetically. The first letter of the Hebrew word is a guttural “h,” a sound that does not exist in English. Since this sound does not exist, it is sometimes represented with the English letters “ch” and sometimes just with an “h.”
Images from our annual Creative Hanukkiah Contest: