Most folks know, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday also known as the festival of lights that is celebrated in December. Some may know that it's a holiday to honor a miracle in which the Jewish people had only one nights supply of sacred oil to light the newly rededicated temple and somehow, by a miracle from God, the lights burned for eight full nights. The word Hanukkah translates to "Establishing" or "Dedication" (of the Temple of Jerusalem)
Because of the ways ancient Hebrew and Yiddish are translated and romanized, there are many alternate, yet correct spellings such as Hanukah, Chanukah. This is why you may see it spelled differently upon occasion.
We asked Marge Holman, one of our Jewish residents at Churchill Estates to help us learn about Hanukkah and we learned that today most modern Americans of Jewish faith celebrate Hanukkah many ways. Primarily with lighting a Menorah. It's like a candelabrum with nine branches, One branch for each night of Hanukkah and one extra branch that is given a special location usually above or below the others called the Shamus (or Shamash) which is Hebrew for "Attendant". The Shamus is used to light the other candles. Each night at sundown, the Shamus is lit and the number of other candles in increased by one each night. Shamus is also the name used for the attendant or handy man that works at the temple. He does all the work keeping the temple in order much like the Shamus on the Menorah is used to do the work of lighting all the other candles. Each night of Hanukkah is also celebrated with giving a gift.
Also, Jewish people play a fun game with a spinning top called a Dreidel during Hanukkah. a Dreidel has four sides with symbols that signify either Nun (Nothing), Gimel (All), Hey (Half), or Shin (Put one in the pot). Each player puts in a chocolate coin known as Hanukka Gelt and takes turn spinning the Dreidel and following what the symbol tells you to do.
Marge told us one of her favorite things about Hanukkah was eating potato Latkas (or Latkes) that is a shallow fried pancakes of grated potatoes and onions. Marge says her husband Phil made the best ones she ever tasted.
One special memory she shared was a time when there were only a few Jewish people in the town she lived in and they had no Menorah with which to celebrate Hanukkah, so they gathered nine children to act as a human menorah.
Marge also said she loves Hanukkah because it brings light in the dark time. The light gives her feelings of joy and fulfillment. Hanukkah is a holiday of thanksgiving and a celebration of God's miracle.
We at Churchill Estates would like to wish Marge and our other Jewish residents and their families a very Happy Hanukkah!