The Beachcomber Holiday Guide

Chanukah

Nov 08, 2019

Chanukah is a holiday that is celebrated by lighting of candles for eight nights, giving gifts and eating traditional fried foods. It is telling of the story of a small band of Jews who defeated the superior Greek army that ruled the Holy Land in the second century BC and returned the Holy Temple to its people. This year the holiday begins on Sunday evening, Dec. 22.

Upon entering the temple, they hoped to light the seven-branched temple menorah with the needed ritual oil but found only a one-day supply. When they lit the candle, they found the light lasted for eight days, allowing them to prepare additional oil.

To commemorate this miracle, we celebrate the holiday of Chanukah, which means “Rededication.” For eight nights, the menorah is lit in homes and synagogues. The first night, the shamosh (helper candle) lights the first candle, the following night two candles are lit, and it continues nightly until all eight candles are lit.

It is customary to give small gifts each night, particularly to the children. Foods cooked in oil are served, such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts). The game of dreidel is also a holiday favorite.

How to Play Dreidel

The Dreidel is a four-sided top with four Hebrew letters, one on each side, that stand for the saying Nes gadol haya sham, meaning “A great miracle occurred there.”

1. Any number of people can take part.

2. Each player begins the game with an equal number of game pieces (about 10 to 15) such as pennies, nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, matchsticks, etc.

3. At the beginning of each round, every participant puts one game piece into the center “pot.” In addition, every time the pot is empty or has only one game piece left, every player should put one in the pot.

4. Every time it’s your turn, spin the dreidel once. Depending on the side it lands on, you give or get game pieces from the pot.

a) Nun means “nothing.” The player does nothing.

b) Gimel means “everything.” The player gets everything in the pot.

c) Hey means “half.” The player gets half the pot. (If there is an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player takes half of the total plus one).

d) Shin means “put in.” The player adds a game piece to the pot.

5. If you find that you have no game pieces left, you are either “out” or may ask a fellow player for a “loan.”

6. When one person has won everything, that round of the game is over!

— Rose Valentine

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