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1 ■ When: Chanukah begins Friday night, Nov. 29, the
25th of Kislev, and lasts eight days. Because tonight also is
Shabbat, lights on the menorah should be kindled before
lighting Shabbat candles. The Chanukah light must be suf-
ficient to burn a half hour into Shabbat. (If your Chanukah
candles are not long enough, it's a good
idea to use Shabbat candles.)
2 ■ What it commemorates:
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Chanukah marks the victory
of the Jews, led by members of
the priestly Hasmonean family
(especially Judah Maccabee),
over the Greco-Syrians
(Seleucids) in 164 B.C.E. The
Seleucids repressed the prac-
tice of Judaism and converted
the Jewish Temple in
Jerusalem into a house of
pagan worship. The
Hasmoneans restored the
Temple and its altar.
Chanukah is the Hebrew
word for "dedication," and
comes from the phrase,
"Dedication of the Altar."
3 ■ How to celebrate:
Kindle lights (oil is preferable, but most people use candles)
in a lamp (menorah). Many use a nine-branched menorah
called a Chanukiah. Use lights progressively each night: one
on the first night, two the second, and so on.
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■ Where to obtain a Chanukah lamp: The three local
Jewish bookstores carry lamps and candles year-round.
Also, many Jewish gift shops, department stores and some
home centers sell menorot. they also are available online
The Chanukah lights do not have to be in a menorah; it's
permissible to light them in individual holders that are
lined up. It is preferable to place the menorah in a window
facing the street for the sake ofpirsumey nisah ("publicize
the miracle"), but the menorah also may be set within the
home in view of household mem-
■ Rules and regulations:
The Chanukah lights must be lit
after sundown only (except before
Shabbat). The lights may not be used
for anything other than display: Do not
read by them, light cigarettes with them or use them in any
other way. It is customary to set up the Chanukah lights
from right to left but light them from left to right.
Unlike the major Jewish holidays, Chanukah is not con-
sidered sacred time-and thus has no restrictions on the use
of electricity, vehicles, handling money, etc.
Rituals: A blessing is recited before lighting, and a
prayer is said after lighting (they can be found in most
Jewish prayer books).
Daily prayers include "Al haNisim" in the Amidah (a
silent, standing prayer) and in Birkat HaMazon (grace
after meals); the full Hallel
prayer is said each day.
In the synagogue, there is
a special Torah reading for
each day (Numbers 7-8:4);
four persons are called up.
Chanukah straddles two
Jewish months, Kislev and
Tevet. The sixth day is also
Rosh Chodesh Kislev (the
first day of the month)
and includes an additional
On Shabbat, the weekly
Torah portion is read with
the Chanukah maftir (the
eighth, and last, aliyah
during the Torah reading).
A special Haftorah for
Chanukah is read
Customs and •
Traditions: We sing "Maoz
Tzur" (Rock of Ages), which is found in prayer books with
the Chanukah ritual. Some also recite or sing Psalm 30.
We eat lathes (potato pancakes) fried in oil (olive and
canola are the healthiest). Israelis
(and 'many Americans) eat jelly
Children play dreidel, a spin-
ning top inscribed with a
Hebrew letter on each of four
sides. The game is played for
chocolate coins, candy or nuts.
Each player tak6 a turn at spin-
. ning. Depending on which
Hebrew letter turns up when the
dreidel stops, the player either gets
or gives to the pot. Gift giving is a
Christmas tradition taken on by
some Jews; it has nothing to do with
. Events associated with Chanukah: The
story of Judith, and also the story of Hannah and
Her Seven Sons. Judith is found in the Book of Judith;
Hannah comes from the Second Book Macca bees.
Although neither is part of the Tznach, Hebrew Bible,
the stories are of Jewish origin and widely known. You
should be able to locate copies or references to find the
stories in synagogue libraries, the Jewish Community
Center of Metropolitan Detroit or public libraries. fl