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dreidels and gelt 3074807_sI’d be meshuga (crazy) if I didn’t take a few moments to wish my Jewish readers a very happy festival of lights. Not that long ago, I would have gotten out my dreidel (toy top) and spent some time looking for my Gimels (letter of the Hebrew alphabet; a winner in dreidel). No matter what your religion, try playing dreidel. It’s a great family game. Besides you could win some gelt (chocolate coins) or Maccabees (chocolates commemorating the family which fought back against oppression and started off the Hanukkah miracle of lights). The sipúr (story) of Hanukkah is one of fighting back against religious oppression and being blessed by God during a time of darkness. Most non-Jews don’t realize it, but Hanukkah is actually quite a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar. I think Jews get a little overwhelmed by all the Christmas festivities and make more of it than was intended.

We used to enjoy lighting the candles through the 8 days of Hanukkah, taking the time out for a little worship before the feasting and present-giving. My daughters loved Hanukkah, of course, because even though we didn’t have a Christmas tree, they got presents for 8 days straight. Who wouldn’t like that?

These days, our religion has changed–circumstances influenced us–and we don’t celebrate Hanukkah the same way. Oh, it’s still our festival of lights, but we don’t have family and friends over to celebrate. We don’t light the menorah (a candelabrum with 9 candles, one for each night of the holiday and the chumash which is the candle from which all the others are lit). But we do have our latkes (potato pancakes) with applesauce and a brisket, when I can find one at the market.

This year, the second night of Hanukkah is on the US Thanksgiving, which will be awkward for many people, but I hope that everyone can be inclusive, enjoying the time of the season and the idea of pushing away the winter darkness for a little while.

Hanukkah Sameach (Happy Hanukkah), my friends!


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  1. Thank you, Trish, for the crash course in Hanukkah. I’ve heard and read about some of the traditions and religious practices, but this gave it all in a nutshell. I’d like to try those latkes! Happy Hanukkah!

  2. I set off my smoke detector five times while making latkes tonight! I need to get some sufganiyot from the big kosher Price Chopper before the holiday is over. My Hebrew birthday is on the 5th night, which is said to be the holiest, most special night.

  3. Very informative, Trish!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Latkes and applesauce sound delicious!

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