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Hanukkah oh Hanukkah come light the menorah! Let’s have a party we’ll all dance the horah! Hanukkah is the festival of lights. During this time, the darkest time of year, we celebrate the miracle of light, and it is a holiday that I enjoy ever so much.

In Judaism, Hanukkah is merely a minor festival; our big holidays, or “holy days” are Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. Hanukkah lasts 8 days and involves the nightly lighting of the Menorah (referred to also as a Hanukiah). What is a Menorah or Hanukiah? It is a candelabrum with 8 candle holders in a row and a separate candle holder for the “Shamash.” The Shamash is used to light the other 8 candles and is necessary since the Hanukkah lights are for the sole purpose of viewing.

So, what is this miracle of which I speak? The miracle we celebrate at Hanukkah commemorates the victory that took place after the King of Syria (Antiochus) and his forces desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem. The Maccabees victoriously took back the Temple. Unfortunately, upon retaking this sacred place, it looked as though it would not be possible to keep the eternal flame lit — only a small container of oil remained. However, this little bit of oil, which should have been enough to last only one day, fueled the flame in the Temple for 8 days, which was the amount of time needed to obtain additional oil. Hence the miracle.

We light the Menorah each night of Hanukkah (by the way, it’s also spelled Chanukah, both are correct) and we also say special blessings over the candles that we do not say at any other time of year. We also sing lovely Hanukkah songs (such as the one I started this post off with) and eat lots of fried foods to commemorate the miracle of the oil.

Last week, I had asked that everyone leave a comment discussing your favorite charitable organization, volunteer opportunity, or something that you are grateful for in your life. Lisa mentioned a group called the Women’s Development Association, a non-profit that raises funds to sponsor young women and children in the ghettos of Lahore, Pakistan. Lisa was randomly chosen as the winner of last weeks giveaway for the book Half the Sky. Congrats Lisa, and thanks everyone for your super inspiring comments, I was very moved by all of them.

posted on December 2, 2010, 13 comments

  1. Raquel of Galilee

    Recently, I read that a few religions have holidays that light the darkness at this time of year, since we are nearing the shortest day of the year.

    Near us, in the city of Nazareth, Christians celebrate the festival of light with processions of children dressed in white, holding candles.

    We are more alike than not.

    Happy Holidays to everyone!

    [BTW the comments on readers favorite charities was amazing!]

  2. Elana, thank you for sharing this. My five year old daughter was just asking what Hanukkah was last night. I told her we would find out exactly what was celebrated in the morning. I wake and find an email that explains it perfectly. Thank you!

    And congratulations, Lisa!

  3. Melissa

    Thank you for the background on Hanukkah, Elana- I actually never really knew too much about it. Happy holidays to you- enjoy!

    xxx- Melissa

  4. Maridith

    Thank you for sharing things dear to your heart, as well as your wonderful recipes.

  5. Maria

    My daughters and I danced to “Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah” last night, albeit the Barenaked Ladies version. They really enjoyed it. I have a book about the Maccabees and the origins of the celebration of Hanukkah, but it’s a little over my girls’ heads right now….so I just explained to my older daughter that Hanukkah is about a wonderful miracle that took place a very long time ago. I think your post explained it much better, though.


  6. Susan Jane @ susanjanemurray.com

    Happy Hannukah Elana. You deserve every continued success. May 2011 be even more exciting for you than 2010, if that’s possible!

    From a big fan in Ireland,

    Susan Jane

  7. Brandon May @ thehealthyadvocate.com

    Happy Hanukkah! I enjoy the festival of light and the metaphor associatied with the holiday. Welcoming in the light at the darkest time of year. For some reason, in the dark, cold and winter months, I feel the warm inside.

  8. Beverly Becker @ whatsonmyfood.org

    May the lights of the season light your way for the year, Elana! We loved the inspiring messages.

  9. Elana Daley @ conceptsintraining.com

    Shared your writing on FB tonight. Thank you for sharing your wealth of information, knowledge, the outcome of your failures and successes, your lovely family, and your life. It all makes a difference to me and to so many.
    Happy Chanukah to you Elana

    Love, lights, and blessings!

  10. Katie

    Happy Hanukkah! (I must confess, when you referred to singing Hanukkah songs, Adam Sandler’s came to mind… I promise I am more cultured than that makes me seem! :-)

  11. Nancy

    Happy Hanukkah to you and your wonderful family of tasters and helpers. We just had a dinner out canceled tomorrow so it’s going to be chicken soup and your two latke recipes at my house instead. Yahoo! Thanks for all your work and sharing. It’s a mitzvah. Nancy

  12. Damaris @Kitchen Corners @ kitchencorners.com

    I’m so glad I found your blog. I was just watching you on WMBLY on the Food BlogHer panel and I really appreciated what you had to say about recipes.

  13. Shari Fischer


    Would you please share your thoughts / version of Kelly (from The Nourishing Home)’s GF, DF apple cider donuts? They aren’t fried (like sufganiyot) for Hanukah, but they really look flavorful and tasty.

    Her recipe may be found at www dot thenourishinghome dot com forward slash 2014 forward slash 12 forward slash apple-cider-donuts-gf-df forward slash.

    Thank you, and chag sumach,

    Shari from NC

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