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Did You Know? Hanukkah (December 22 – 30, 2019)

To help increase awareness of religious diversity, my department's Wellness and Inclusion Team is doing a "Did you know" series. This series features information on various religious and secular celebrations throughout the year.

Hanukkah (December 22 – 30, 2019)

Did you know?

Some of our colleagues will be celebrating Hanukkah this holiday season.

  • Hanukkah (Hebrew word meaning "dedication") is an eight-day festival of lights and is observed beginning on the eve of the 25th of Kislev of the Jewish calendar.
  • Hanukkah recognizes the victory of a small group of Jews who defeated an army of Syrian-Greeks, a group who tried to assimilate Jews into accepting their culture and beliefs including the worship of Zeus. When the Jewish temple was reclaimed and rededicated to God, only a single container of uncontaminated oil was found to light the Temple's menorah. Miraculously, the one-day supply of oil lasted eight days, until new oil could be found.
  • At the heart of this festival is the lighting of the Hanukiah (a nine-branched candelabrum specifically lit for Hanukkah as opposed to the seven-branched menorah) in synagogues, public places, and homes to commemorate these events. The middle candle, called the shamash (meaning the "attendant"), is used to light the other candles each night of the celebration. The number of candles lit each night increases by one: one on the first night, two on the second night, etc.
  • Special blessings are recited, followed by traditional songs. Jews also celebrate with special prayers and thanksgiving to God.
  • Other traditions include:
    • donating to charity;
    • eating fried food, such as the Israeli favourite jelly-filled sufganya (doughnut), because the Hanukkah miracle involved oil; and
    • parents giving their children gifts of money and chocolate coins to reward them for their positive behaviour and devotion to studying the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament).

To all who celebrate, we wish you "Chanukah Sameach", Happy Hanukkah!





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