> The Hull Reform Synagogue - Ne've Shalom
The Hull Reform Synagogue - Ne've Shalom



This year, the first night of Chanukah is Shabbat 8 December 2012. The following article has been taken from the web site "About.com"

Chanukah falls on the twenty-fifth day of the Jewish month of Kislev. Since the Jewish calendar is lunar based, every year the first day of Chanukah falls on a different day - usually sometime between late November and late December. Because many Jews live in predominately Christian societies, over time Chanukah has become much more festive and Christmas-like. Jewish children receive gifts for Chanukah - often one gift for each of the eight nights of the holiday. Many parents hope that by making Chanukah extra special their children won't feel left out of all the Christmas festivities going on around them.

The Chanukah Story

In 168 BCE. the Jewish Temple was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of the god Zeus. This upset the Jewish people, but many were afraid to fight back for fear of reprisals. Then in 167 BCE. the Syrian-Greek emperor Antiochus made the observance of Judaism an offence punishable by death. He also ordered all Jews to worship Greek gods.

Jewish resistance began in the village of Modiin, near Jerusalem. Greek soldiers forcibly gathered the Jewish villages and told them to bow down to an idol, then eat the flesh of a pig - both practices that are forbidden to Jews. A Greek officer ordered Mattathias, a High Priest, to acquiesce to their demands, but Mattathias refused. When another villager stepped forward and offered to cooperate on Mattathias' behalf, the High Priest became outraged. He drew his sword and killed the villager, then turned on the Greek officer and killed him too. His five sons and the other villagers then attacked the remaining soldiers, killing all of them. Mattathias and his family went into hiding in the mountains, where other Jews wishing to fight against the Greeks joined them. Eventually they succeeded in retaking their land from the Greeks. These rebels became known as the Maccabees, or Hasmoneans.

Once the Maccabees had regained control they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem. By this time it had been spiritually defiled by being used for the worship of foreign gods and also by practices such as sacrificing swine. Jewish troops were determined to purify the Temple by burning ritual oil in the Temple's menorah for eight days. But to their dismay, they discovered that there was only one day's worth of oil left in the Temple. They lit the menorah anyway and to their surprise the small amount of oil lasted the full eight days. This is the miracle of the Chanukah oil that is celebrated every year when Jews light a special menorah known as a chanukiah for eight days. One candle is lit on the first night of Chanukah, two on the second, and so on, until eight candles are lit.

Chanukah Traditions

Lighting the chanukiah: A chanukiah is a candelabrum with eight candleholders in a row and a ninth candleholder set a little above the others. It's different from a menorah, which has seven branches and was used in the Temple before it was destroyed in 70 CE. A chanukiah is nevertheless a kind of menorah.

Spinning the dreidel: A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side. It is used during Chanukah to play a popular children's game that involves spinning the dreidel and betting on which Hebrew letter will be showing when the dreidel stops spinning. Children usually play for a pot of "gelt", which are chocolate coins covered in gold coloured tin foil, but they can also play for sweet, nuts, raisins - anything really!

Eating fried foods: Because Chanukah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is traditional to eat fried foods such as latkes and sufganiyot during the holiday. Latkes are pancakes made out of potatoes and onions, which are fried in oil and then served with applesauce. Sufganiyot are jelly-filled donuts that are fried and sometimes dusted with confectioners' sugar before eating.


Ne've Shalom
Great Gutter Lane
HU10 6DP



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