With the Jewish Festival of Lights just around the corner—Hanukkah begins December 7—it seemed like the perfect opportunity to reveal a few facts about the annual tradition that you may be unfamiliar with.
1. Hanukkah celebrates the recapturing the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from the Greeks in the 2nd Century BCE by the intrepid Maccabees, whose first act was to light the golden menorah. Despite having there being only a single night’s worth of oil available, the lamped burned miraculously for eight days.
2. The war of the Maccabees was one more ideological than explosive, fought by a small cadre of pious Talmudic scholars who engaged on stealth warfare—You can actually visit the caves in which they hid.
3. The dreidel game originated by students illegally studying the Torah, which was forbidden by the Greeks. Whenever the army staged a raid, the students would pull out the dreidel and pretend to be gambling.
4. Because of its historic significance in story of Hanukkah, oil is also celebrated with Jews eating holiday treats like latkes and a doughnut-like pastry, called sufganiyot, each cooked in oil and each packing a hearty 400-600 calories! Israelis devour about 24 million sufganiyot during the eight-day festival or approximately 10.8 billion calories.
5. The President and First Lady host an annual Hanukkah party for hundreds of prominent American Jews, a tradition started on December 10, 2001, when President George W. Bush borrowed a 100-year-old menorah from the Jewish Museum in New York for the event.
The Rego Park Jewish Center is proud to be part of this great legacy since its founding in 1939. A traditional Conservative Synagogue , the Center understands as its primary purpose, the preservation and fostering of the time-honored traditions and ceremonies of our people in a spirit of authenticity, intelligence and warmth.