We had two special guests visit our class today. One was a former student and the other was her father. They shared with our class the traditions of Hannakah and how they celebrate it with their family.
First she told us about the history of Hannakah - how it began over 2,000 years ago when the Syrian-Greek leader, Antiochus IV, attempted to force the Jews in Israel to renounce their religion and culture. There was a revolt led by Judah Maccabee and the Jews were victorious, despite the fact that their army was outnumbered. The Hannakah celebration of lighting the menorah traces its origin to a miracle that occurred after the victory of the Maccabees. It was a tradition to light a special lamp in the Temple, called a menorah, with olive oil, but all of the vials of oil were made impure with the exception of one. According to Hannakah history, the one vial of oil burned for eight days until pure oil could be obtained for the holy Temple. In gratitude, the Jews began lighting small menorahs in their homes to commemorate the miracle.
Her father explained how to light the candles and volunteers had the chance to come up to the menorah and light a candle using the "helper" candle. They told us of the traditional food they eat during this time including latkes (potato pancakes) and jelly donuts! The children liked the idea of the donuts!
Next, she taught the students how to play a game with a dreidel. It is a toy (like a top) that is played while the menorah is burning. She explained the four different Hebrew signs on the dreidel. Then students had a chance to play the game with a partner and they used chocolate kisses as their coins. Each child was gifted a dreidel and ten chocolate kisses.
Finally, she read a book to the children and answered any questions they had. It was a wonderful way for the students to learn about a different culture and holiday tradition.