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Chanukah/Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, begins at sundown on Wednesday, December 1st. It continues through sundown on Thursday, December 9.
There’s a gift for everyone on our list of kosher Hanukkah gifts: cheese, chocolates, cookies, nuts, toffee and other delicious gifts.
Take a peek; then come back for a little Hanukkah history.
The holiday commemorates a battle that took place some 2,200 years ago. Judea, the land of the Jews (the southern part of what is now Israel), was under the rule of Greece.
A Greco-Syrian king forbade the Jewish people from observing their religion. They were prohibited from praying to their God, studying the Torah* and practicing their customs.
A small group of resistance fighters called the Maccabees waged war for three years to drive the very large Greco-Syrian army out of Judea. When they returned to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, they cleaned and rededicated their house of worship.
Here’s what most people remember about the Hanukkah story:
The Maccabees discovered that the enemy had defiled the oil which was used to light the temple’s menorah (lamp). Only enough purified oil remained to light the menorah for one day. It would take a week to make more purified oil. But a miracle occurred:
After the the menorah was lit, the flames burned for eight days—by which time new vats of purified oil were ready.
Thus, the Hanukkah Menorah holds eight candles plus a shamash† candle used to light the eight. And why Hanukkah lasts for eight days.
*Today the Torah comprises the five books of the Old Testament, which contain Judaism’s founding laws and ethical texts.
†The Hebrew word shamash means “the attendant.” The beadle (synagogue attendant) in a temple is also called a shamash.
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