12/7/12

Happy Hanukkah!

Stanmark

Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish readers and neighbors who will begin celebrating Hanukkah at sundown this Saturday, December 8. For more information go to Chabad.org, the source of the following:

Hanukkah -- the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of Kislev 25 -- celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality.

More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d.When they sought to light the Temple's menorah, they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Hanukkah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Hanukkah, when all eight lights are kindled. On Hanukkah we also recite Hallel and the Al HaNissim prayer to offer praise and thanksgiving to G-d for "delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few... the wicked into the hands of the righteous."

Hanukkah customs include eating foods fried in oil -- latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (doughnuts); playing with the dreidel (a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, hei and shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, "a great miracle happened there"); and the giving of Hanukkah gelt, gifts of money, to children.
Here's the nightly prayer for the lighting of the menorah:

Ba-ruch ata, A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu, me-lech ha-o-lam, 

a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mits-vo tov, 
ve-tsi-va-nu le-had-lik neir shel Han-nu-kah.


Blessed is Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, 

by whose mitzvot we are sanctified   
and who commands us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah
 

Ba-ruch ata, A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu, me-lech ha-o-lam,
she-a-sa ni-sim las-a-vo-tei-nu 

ba-ya-mim ha-heim ba-ze-man ha-zah.

Blessed is Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe,  

who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors 
in days of old, at this season. 

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam
he-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu  
ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh. 

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe.
who has granted us life, sustained us,
and enabled us to reach this occasion. 

This video from several years ago offers the opportunity to hear the blessings sung at the lighting of the candles on the menorah.


 
There are many renditions of The Dreidel Song on the internet, many of doubtful musical quality and some of questionable humor. But this upbeat setting by Kenny Ellis sets a great festive mood!

 Yearofgrace2011   


 
         
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