December 11, 2012
December 8th marked the start of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. Hanukkah, which means "Dedication" in Hebrew, lasts for 8 days and nights, a length of time that is symbolic of the miracle that is said to have occurred during the Second Century BC when the Second Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated. Despite the fact that rebels defending the temple from their Greek-Syrian oppressors had only enough oil to keep the candles burning for a single night, the oil lasted for 8. Today, it's traditional to light one candle on the menorah each night of Hanukkah at Sundown with the central candle, called the Shamash, in commemoration of the miracle.
Hanukkah begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar. This has it falling in either November or December. As with Christmas, it is traditional to give gifts, play games, eat specialty foods, and enjoy the company of friends and family. Ironically, the celebration is never mentioned in the Torah. This is because the events occur after the writing of the Jewish holy book. Hanukkah is alluded to in the New Testament when Jesus is said to attend, "a Feast of Dedication."
Hanukkah is usually not complete without a latke or two. Essentially, a latke is a potato pancake. Jam-filled donuts called sufganiyot are also popular in many households. There is no one-size-fits-all way of celebrating Hanukkah, and many families have made it their own in some interesting ways. For example, boyos are making a comeback in the homes of Jews who hail from the area that used to comprise the Ottoman Empire. Favored by Jews whose families hail from Greece and Turkey, these stuffed pastries are a versatile alternative to latkes. Renee Ferrera shares a family recipe and recounts the emigration of his immediate family shortly before World War II, tying together the Jewish food and history of a particular region in an emotionally stirring way. The experiences of other Jews will necessarily be different. And one thing's for sure, their unique experiences will color their foods, traditions, and reason for celebrating their faith!
North Independence Branch