Chanukah ( חנוכה,) is the holiday that commemorate the re dedication of the Temple (בית המקדש) after the war with the Syrian Greeks.
How is the Chanukah celebrated?
Chanuka is celebrated by lighting candles at sundown during 8 nights, starting from the 25 of the Hebrew month of Kislev. (כסלו) The Menora, called Hannukiah (חנוכיה) in Hebrew, is placed in a window (חלון) that is visible from the street. In Jerusalem, many people also light outside the doorway of the houses, with olive oil (שמן זית) candles, placed inside a glass box. The purpose of this custom is to publicize the miracle to the passers by.
The Miracle of Chanukah
The most quoted miracle (נס) is the one that happened after the war between the Maccabees and the Syrian Greeks was finished and the High Priest ( כחן הגדול) returned to the Temple to begin the worship and light the 7 branched Menora. They found only one flask of olive oil that had the stamp of the former High Priest. There was only enough oil to keep the Menora burning for one day. The miracle was that instead of only one day of burning, the oil lasted for 8 days. This was just enough time for new oil to be prepared from the picking of the olives to the pressing and refining. The Halacha (הלכה) of the Temple was that the Menorah had to be kept lit 24 hours a day, and usually new oil was needed each night.
The other observances of Chanukah are additions to the Blessing after eating bread, and special Torah readings in the synagogue. Children are traditionally given money “Chanuka gelt” (דמי חנוכה) and in modern times, they are given gifts each of the 8 nights.
Vocabulary of Chanukah