Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights start on the 25th day of the month of Kislev and lasts for eight days and nights.
With blessings, games, and festive foods Hanukkah celebrates the triumph both religious and military of ancient Jewish heroes.Israeli Hanukkah Menorah for lighting candles of Hanukkah
Nearly 2,200 years ago the Greek-Syrian ruler Antiochus IV tried to force Greek culture upon peoples in his territory and outlaed Jewish rituals and ordered the Jewish to worship Greek gods. Jews in Judea - now Israel - were forbidden their most important religious practices as well as study of the Torah.
Although vastly outnumbered, Jews in the region took up arms to protect their community, their religion and culture. Led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and later his son Judah the Maccabee the rebel armies became known as the Maccabees.
The fighting began in Modiin, a village not far from Jerusalem. A Greek officer assembled the villagers asking them to bow to an idol and eat the flesh of a pig, activities forbidden to Jews. The officer asked Mattathias - a Jewish High Priest - to take part of the ceremony. He refused, and another villager stepped forward and offered to do it instead. Mattathias became outraged, took out his sword and killed the man, then killed the officer. His five sons and other villagers attacked the soldiers. Mattathias family went into hiding in the nearby mountains, where many other Jews who wanted to fight the greeks joined them. They attacked the Greek soldires whenever possible.
Judah Maccabee and his soldiers went to the holy Temple and were saddened that many things were missing or broken - including the golden Menorah.
They cleaned and repaired the Temple, and when they were finished they decided to have a big dedication ceremony. For the celebration the Maccabess wanted to light the Menorah. They looked everywhere for oil and found a small flask that contained only enough oil to light the Menorah for one day. Miraculously the oil lasted for eight days. This gave them enough time to obtain new oil to keep the Menorah lit.
Today Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting candles in a Menorah every night, thus commemorating the eight day miracle.
In commemoration of Hanukkah's miracles a Hanukkah Menorah is lit during each of the eight nights of Hanukka.
Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah is the central part of the holiday. One candle is lit the first night, and an additional candle in each successive night.
While lighting the candles blessings are recited and the ancient chants are traditionaly sung. Hanerot Halalu - Maoz tzur...
After lighting the Hanukkiah families will eat and play games.Israeli Hanukkah games with the Dreidel
Traditional Hanukkah food is oil rich in commemoration of the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. Potato latkes are a Hanukkah favorite.
Sufganyot are jelly doughnuts that are dropped into hot oil and come out in odd forms. They are covered with powdered sugar. They are particular popular in Israel.