Some Helpful Vocabulary
What do we say in greeting?
In Hebrew one would say: Chag Urim Sameach.
A Chag is a festival; Urim means light; Sameach means happy.
Dreidel – a four-sides top, with Initial: Nun, Gimmel, Hey, Shin, which stands for the expression: Nes Gadol Haya Sham, A Great Miracle Happened There (in Israel)
Menorah – a candelabrum
Hanukkiah – a candle holder specifically for Chanukah! It has room for 8 candles plus the shammas.
What a shammas? The “helper” candle, used to kindle the rest.
Pirsum et haNes – Publicize the Miracle! In earlier times, people would put their Menorah in their window to publicize the miracle (of the oil).
The blessing for the Chanukah candles and how to place them in the Menorah
The Chanukah Story: Why do we celebrate for 8 days?
Chanukah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the oppressive rule of Antiochus and the Syrian-Greeks. Antiochus had outlawed Jewish practices and defiled the Temple with Idols. Led by Judah, the small Maccabee army defeated the Greeks and rededicated the altar.
The Talmud relates the “story” of Chanukah. When it came time to light the Menorah, only one vial of oil was found intact. What should have lasted only a day miraculously lasted for 8 days, until more oil could properly be prepared!
Historians remind us that once the Temple was rededicated, that the Jewish community was quick to observe Sukkot, the 8-day holiday that had recently passed. That is a more likely association for the length of the observance.
Be sure to sign up for PJ Library, so your child can receive a free Jewish book each month!
2. Find our library through the app by searching for “Congregation Emanu-El.”
3. Enter your Member ID, which is your library card number. Library cards are available to temple members by visiting the library, emailing our – 212-507-9560, or contacting the Temple Emanu-El – 212-507-9580.
Teach your kids by doing. Donate outgrown coats to a coat drive. Have them help you shop for gifts for someone else. Participate in a Toy Drive. Reach out to someone who is alone and light the candles with them, over Zoom. When a child receives a new toy, ask them to chose one of their own toys which they no longer play with to give away.
May you bring light and joy into the holiday.
I hope the lights of Chanukah bring you and your family joy as you make new memories while you celebrate.
Rabbi Amy Ehrlich