All About Hanukkah

Hanukkah is the Jewish holiday celebrating the victory of the Maccabees over the Antiochus Epiphanes, and the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem that followed. It takes place on the 25th day of Kislev on the Jewish calendar, and lasts for eight nights. A candle is lit each night in a Menorah in celebration of the eight nights the celebration lasted. Legend also says that the celebration lasts eight nights because the oil used to light the temple during the celebration was only supposed to last for one night, but miraculously lasted for eight. In celebrating Hanukkah, different songs are sung, many special foods are eaten and games are played.

Judaic Seminar offers a list of Hanukkah guidelines to follow, including prayers, historical perspective and where to sleep.

Department for Children, Schools and Families offers a guide of what children should learn about Hanukkah, and activities that can help them learn about it.

The Knesset offers a brief overview of what Hanukkah is, and how it’s celebrated.

North Kansas City School District provides an overview of Hanukkah, activities to help teach children about Hanukkah and Hanukkah songs and traditions.

The Story of Hanukkah: there are many different stories about Hanukkah, and where the holiday originates from. Some of the stories involve the celebration of the temple after the Maccabees victory, some tell of the miracle of the oil burning for eight nights, and some blend both together.

Chabad provides several different versions of the story of Hanukkah.

Judaism 101 provides the basic story of Hanukkah.

La Prensa San Diego provides the story of Hanukkah.

Music: there are many different songs sang during Hanukkah, in particular the prayer during the lighting of the candles and “I Had a Little Dreidel,” a song all about the special toy used in celebrating Hanukkah.

Ikar provides several Hanukkah songs viewers can listen to.

NPR offers some Hanukkah songs, and even a video, viewers can listen to.

World ORT offers three songs used during the celebration of Hanukkah.

Food: many dishes are cooked in oil during Hanukkah, to symbolize the miracle of the oil lasting eight nights. Latkes, or potato pancakes, is the traditional appetizer or side dish served during Hanukkah, and are cooked in oil. Beef Brisket is the traditional main course cooked for Hanukkah dinner. Sufganiyots, donut-like, cream-filled pastries, are also cooked in oil, and often served as dessert during Hanukkah.

Michigan Department of Agriculture provides a recipe for potato latkes.

Torahbytes provides a recipe for Sufganiyots.

Shabat Shalom provides several recipes for Brisket, a traditional meat served during Hanukkah.

Games: during Hanukkah, adults and children play Dreidel. Played with the top-like spinning object, the game involves the gaining and losing of coins or gelt depending on which side the Dreidel lands on when a player spins it. The symbols on the four sides of the Dreidel mean “A Miracle Happened Here.”

Basic Judaism provides the story of the Dreidel and the rules of the game.

Congregation B’nai Abraham offers a brief explanation of the Dreidel and rules for playing the game on their Hanukkah page.

Jewish Outreach Institute provides a virtual game of Dreidel on their website.