Chanukah Fun Facts

Dreidels in Israel are different than dreidels outside Israel…
The four Hebrew letters on a dreidel – nun, gimel, hay, shin – stand for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, or A Great Miracle Happened There. The four Hebrew letters on a dreidel in Israel – nun, gimel, hay, pay – stand for Nes Gadol Hayah Po, or A Great Miracle Happened Here. I am looking forward to purchasing an Israeli dreidel later this month when I am in Israel for my nephew’s wedding. I have been there during Purim, Passover, and the High Holy Days, but this is the first time I will be in Israel during Chanukah!

Chanukah is a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar…
Because of its proximity to Christmas, it is assumed by many to be an important holiday on par with Rosh Hashanah or Passover, but in fact, it is considered a minor observance.

A menorah is a seven-branched candelabra…
The nine-branched ‘menorah’ we light during Chanukah is actually called a chanukiah (chah-noo-KEE-ah). Sometimes a chanukiah is called a Chanukah menorah; hence, the confusion.

The Guiness Book of World Records certifies the following Chanukah feats…
Largest ‘menorah’ – 4000 lbs / 32’ tall
Largest display of lit ‘menorahs’ – 1000
Most dreidels spinning simultaneously for 10 seconds or more – 820

The next Thanksgivukkah (remember 2013?) will occur in the year 2070, when the first candle will be lit in the evening right after Thanksgiving dinner. Assuming I live, according to Jewish tradition, ‘ad me’ah v’esrim’ (until 120), I look forward to the celebration!

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A New Game:

If you’ve played enough dreidel and you’re looking for a new game to play with friends and family, try playing poker using gelt as poker chips! Small gelt has a value of 1, medium gelt 3, and large gelt 5. [Thanks to my eldest son and eldest nephew for this idea.] We played last year, and it was great fun!

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Wishing you and yours a Happy Chanukah!

Chanukah is about rededication. During this Festival of Lights, and as the calendar turns to the secular new year, let us rededicate ourselves to the ideals of freedom, equality, peace and understanding among all peoples of the earth.

B’ahava,
Cantor Jacqui