Celebrating Hanukkah

Hanukkah is the Jewish Feast of Lights or Feast of Dedication.The Hebrew word Hanukkah means dedication. The holiday begins on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew Month of Kislev and lasts eight days. Hanukkah usually falls in the month of December, but occasionally can start in November.

Hanukkah is celebrated with a series of rituals that are performed every day throughout the 8-day holiday. Each evening, one additional candle is lit on the Hanukkah menorah. Some rituals are family-based and others communal. During Hanukkah, gifts are exchanged and contributions are made to the poor.  By the last evening, eight lighted candles stand together. There are special additions to the daily prayer service, and a section is added to the blessing after meals.

Hanukkah Traditions
Every community has its unique Hanukkah traditions, but there are some traditions that are almost universally practiced. They are: lighting the hanukkiyah, spinning the dreidel and eating fried foods.

Lighting the menorah: Every year it is customary to commemorate the miracle of the Hanukkah oil by lighting candles on a menorah. The menorah is lit every night for eight nights.

Spinning the dreidel: A popular Hanukkah game is spinning the dreidel, which is a four-sided top with Hebrew letters written on each side.

Eating fried foods: Because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is traditional to eat fried foods such as latkes and sufganiyot during the holiday. atkes are pancakes made out of potatoes and onions, which are fried in oil and then served with applesauce. Sufganiyot are jelly-filled donuts that are fried andsometimes dusted with sugar before eating.

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