Shalom Sesame with Veronica Monica & The Story Of Chanukah. Tonight marks the first night of Chanukah, the eight-day “Festival of Lights” or more accurately, “Feast of Dedication.” The story is well known and often told of how a small band of fighters, led by Judah Maccabee, were able to defeat a large army of the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE. This was a miracle in itself, it seems, but the greater miracle, the Talmud says, was that a small flask of oil for the temple rededication lasted eight days instead of only one.
By 165 BCE the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated. The festival of Hanukkah was instituted to celebrate this event. Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the kohen gadol (high priest) was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night. The story goes that one flask was found with only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah. An eight-day festival was declared by the Jewish sages to commemorate this miracle.There are many wonderful things about Chanukah, including how to spell the name of this holiday: in Hebrew (חנוכה), but in English there are many variants (i.e., Hanukah, Chanukah, Hanukkah and Chanukkah). Then there is the food associated with it, including latkes (i.e., potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (i.e., jelly-filled doughnuts), of which we’ll eat our fill for the next eight days. And we’ll give our two boys so much Chanukah gelt (i,e., chocolate coins), they’ll plotz. Thay will also play dreidel, a four-sided top that has on each side one Hebrew letter: נ (Nun), ג (Gimmel), ה (Hay) and ש (Shin),which translates to “Nes Gadol Haya Sham.” This phrase means, “A great miracle happened there [in Israel].” This reminds me of that most Jewish holidays can be summed up in nine words: “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.”
Since the Jews follow a lunisolar calendar to calculate the holidays and festivals, the question invariably comes up (outside Israel) on when that holiday falls on the Gregorian calendar. This brings up another joke:
Q: When does Chanukah take place this year?And, finally, another Jewish joke:
A: The same as every year, on the 25th of Kislev.
Last year, just before Hanukkah, Miriam, a grandmother was giving directions to her grown up grandson who was coming to visit with his wife. “You come to the front door of the condominium complex. I am in apartment 2B.”
Miriam continued, “There is a big panel at the door. With your elbow push button 2B. I will buzz you in. Come inside, the elevator is on the right. Get in, and with your elbow hit 2. When you get out I am on the left. With your elbow, hit my doorbell.”
“Grandma, that sounds easy,” replied Jonathan, the grandson, “but why am I hitting all these buttons with my elbow.”
To which she answered, “You're coming to visit empty handed?”That’s it. I wish everyone a Happy Chanukah and all the best.