Celebrating Hanukkah – The Festival of Lights
Hanukkah is almost upon us, it begins this year on the evening of December 8, 2012 with what is known as Feast of Dedication Eve, or Erev Chanukah. The historical background for this holiday dates to the second century or 165 B.C. when Antiochus Epiphanes was attempting to destroy the Temple of God and His people. He went so far as to profane the Holy Temple by sacrificing a pig on the altar thus making it unclean. This was an attempt to divert the Jewish people from their worship of the One True God and turn them to a false-god worship system.
The Maccabees eventually won the war and then rededicated the Temple of God. When they did so they found enough oil left in the Temple but it would only last one day. The miracle that happened was that it lasted for eight days, thus Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the miracle of light provided by God.
The menorah is lit on Erev Chanukah, and only one candle is lit. The following is taken from the book, “Walk with Y’shua Through the Jewish Year” by Janie-sue Wertheim and Kathy Shapiro.
Light your menorah! The shamash candle is lit first. Shamash is Hebrew for ‘servant,’ and the servant candle brings light to all the rest. It reminds us of Y’shua, who came as a servant to be the light of the world. Place your candles from right to left in your Hanukkiah. Light the shamash candle first. Light your other candles from left to right so that you ae lighting the newest day’s candle first.
Traditionally, the Hebraic Blessings are then spoken. Here are the words to Blessing #1, taken from aish.com. The first two blessings are said with the Shamash already lit, but immediately prior to lighting the Chanukah candles.
Baruch ata Adonoy Eloheinu melech ha-olam asher kid’shanu be’mitzvo’sav ve-tzivanu lehadlik ner shel Chanukah.
Blessed are You, God, King of the Universe, Who made us holy with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.
Baruch ata Adonoy Eloheinu melech ha-olam Shi-asa nee-seem la-avo-seinu, Baya-meem ha-haim baz-man ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, God, King of the Universe, Who made miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.
This blessing is said on the first night only.
Baruch ata Adonoy Eloheinu melech ha-olam Sheh-he-che-yanu vi-kee-yimanu Vi-hee-gee-yanu laz-man ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, God, King of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
This paragraph is said each night, after the first light has been kindled.
We kindle these lights for the miracles and the wonders, for the redemption and the battles which You performed for our forefathers in those days at this season through Your holy priests. During all eight days of Chanukah these lights are sacred, and we are not permitted to make ordinary use of them, but only to look at them — in order to express thanks and praise to Your great Name, for your miracles, Your wonders, and Your salvations.
Hanukkah is a time of celebration and fun for the family, to rejoice that God is the true King of the Universe and that He still provides for His people. Below is a traditional recipe that is served during Hanukkah. The recipe was found on foodnetwork.com.
Recipe courtesy of Michele Urvater
Ingredients 1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes peeled 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 2 tablespoons flour (or more) or matzo meal (during Passover) 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and freshly ground black pepper Vegetable oil for frying
In a food processor grate the potatoes. Line a sieve with cheesecloth and transfer potatoes to the sieve. Set sieve over a bowl, twist cheesecloth into a pouch, squeezing out some moisture. Let mixture drain for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pour off liquid from the bowl but leave the white potato starch that settles in the bottom of the bowl.
To that starch add shallots, eggs, flour, 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt and freshly ground pepper. Return drained potatoes to this mixture and toss to combine.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking pan with paper towels. When you are ready to eat, in a large skillet heat 1/4 inch of oil over medium high heat until hot. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of potato mixture and cook for 3 to 4 minutes a side; latkes should be golden and crisp on both sides. Eat right away or keep warm in oven. Serve with applesauce or sour cream or cottage cheese mixed with sour cream. (foodnetwork.com)