Dec 01, 2010 9:49 am
Hannukah (from the Hebrew word for "dedication" or "consecration") is often known as a Festival of Lights, and a Jewish equivalent to Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Eid. The holiday marks, according to Wikipedia, the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem (Second Temple) after its desecration by the forces of the King of Syria Antiochus IV Epiphanes and commemorates the "miracle of the container of oil". According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate fresh olive oil.
According to Wikipedia, Hanukkah is also mentioned in 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees. The first states: "For eight days they celebrated the rededication of the altar. Then Judah and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the rededication... should be observed... every year... for eight days. (1 Mac. 4:56–59)" According to 2 Maccabees, "the Jews celebrated joyfully for eight days as on the feast of Booths."
The lighting of candles in a menorah, hopefulling facing a street or other places where it can be seen publicly, starts tonight and proceeds through the coming eight days... along with meals of latkes (potato pancakes), sufganiot (jelly- or cheese-filled doughnuts), and cheesy foods.
Tonight, on the first night of Chanukah, all three of the following blessings are recited. On all subsequent nights, recite blessings number 1 and 2.
1. Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.
2. Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.
3. Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.
After the lights are lit each evening, recite or sing the following:
We kindle these lights to commemorate the saving acts, miracles and wonders which You have performed for our forefathers, in those days at this time, through Your holy priests. Throughout the eight days of Chanukah, these lights are sacred, and we are not permitted to make use of them, but only to look at them, in order to offer thanks and praise to Your great Name for Your miracles, for Your wonders and for Your salvations.