FIVE THINGS: About Hanukkah

8:53 AM, Dec 28, 2005   |    comments
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The 8-day Jewish holiday of Hanukkah began at sundown Dec. 25. Happy holidays! History About 2,170 years ago, Jewish Maccabees were victorious over the forces of Syrian-Greek King Antiochus IV. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, which Antiochus' army had vandalized. Among Jewish holidays, it's a relatively minor one. Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Passover are more significant. Spell it Hanukkah means dedication. It has only five letters in Hebrew, but there are a bunch of ways to spell it in English, the most common being Hanukkah/Hannukah and Chanukkah/Channuka. (The Free Press uses the spelling preferred by the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.) Everything is illuminated The holiday also is known as the Festival of Lights. The story goes: When the Maccabees were rededicating the temple, they had enough lamp oil for only one day. But it lasted for eight days. That miracle is symbolized by the menorah or chanukkiah, a candelabra that holds nine candles, one for each day of Hanukkah and one called the shammus (servant) used to light the other candles. One candle is lit the first day, two the second day, and so on. Blessings and songs accompany the lighting of the candles. Menorahs range from less than $15 to hundreds of dollars, such as the $674 sterling silver Ben Yehuda menorah at Personalized menorahs with the name and colors of your favorite hockey, basketball, baseball or football team are $39.99 at Paczki, meet sufganiyot Sufganiyot are jelly doughnuts fried in oil, then dusted with powder sugar or cinnamon. The oil symbolizes the miracle of the oil at the temple. Another traditional Hanukkah food is potato latkes, which are like pancakes, fried in oil. On Moshe! On Herschel! On Shlomo! "Saturday Night Live" comedian Jon Lovitz played Hanukkah Harry in a 1989 skit. The premise: Santa Claus was ailing and couldn't make his rounds, so he called Hanukkah Harry for help. Harry revved up his sled, which was pulled by three donkeys, and brought the goyische boys and girls useful presents like socks and pants. But really, parents and other family and friends give kids Hanukkah presents. Kids, you knew that, right?


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