Hanukkah festival of lights
When: November27, 2013 -December 5, 2013
Hanukkah in Israel
Hanukkah in Israel is a festival of lights, it is considered as an important festival and is widely celebrated and marked by various symbolic events, customs and foods. It starts on the 25th day of the Jewish calendar month of Kislev and lasts for eight days and nights.
It is an eight day festival and even treated as a feast of dedication. This festival brings new hope and joy across the country. Hanukkah addresses blessings, festive foods games and it celebrates the triumphs of both religious and military of ancient Jewish heroes.
Nearly 2,200 years ago, the Greek-Syrian ruler Antiochus IV tried to apply the Greek culture upon peoples in his territory. Jews in Judea (which is Israel now) were banned their most important religious practices as well as study of the Torah. Although vastly outnumbered, religious Jews present in the region tried hard to protect their community and their religion too. Initially it was led by Mattathias – the Hasmonean, and later it was took by his son Judah the Maccabee, the rebel armies then turned to Maccabees.
After three long years of fighting in the 165 B.C.E., Maccabees hit the triumph and reclaimed the temple on Jerusalem’s Mount Moriah. After that they managed the temple for rededication in Hebrew. In the temple they found only a certain amount of oil that can lighten the temple for a single day but magically the lights used to burn for eight days.
Menorah is a candle-stand with nine branches and is suitable to keep eight candles in it. From the beginning of the eight day fest, each day marked with the lighting up of single candle. So, in the process in the eight day the eighth candle will be lighted. This lighting of the menorah is in Hebrew is called as hanukiya and it is one of the most important Hanukkah tradition.
The menorah heralds the burning light in the temple and some say it also symbols the light of freedom won by the Maccabes for the Jewish people.
The Hanukkah festival foods are mostly cooked in oil, resembling the oil that is burning in the temple. The wide spread Hanukkah food in the United States is potato pancakes or latkes, later it was developed in Eastern Europe. In Israel the special Hanukkah food is sufganiya. Sufganiya is a type of jelly donut cooked in the oil. The people in Israel start eating this sufganiya before the start of the Hanukkah, they nearly eat this donut for about a month.
As a part of the Hanukkah tradition, Israelis eat dairy products, particularly cheese. Eating cheese is in the memory of Jewelish heroine Judith, who according to legend saved her village from Syrian attackers. Judith fed cheese and red wine to Syrian general Holofernes until he lost his control and then she seized his sword and cut off his- She kept the head in a basket and brought back to the village.