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Jewish Holy Day of Hanukkah

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Jewish Holy Day of Hanukkah

REL/134
November 1, 2011
Instructor: Tim Westley

Jewish Holy Day of Hanukkah
With most religions there are special times of the year that people of faith celebrate holidays associated with the religion one practices. Hanukkah or Chanukah celebrates the Jewish rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the Second century B.C. Legend says Jews rose up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors during the Maccabean Revolt (History.com, 2011).
The meaning of Hanukkah in Hebrew is dedication, and is an eight day festival, known as the festival of lights which begins on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev; usually in the months of November or December. Hanukkah for those who do not practice Judaism is probably the best known holiday celebrated in the Jewish faith. The reason for this knowledge is because of its proximity to the Christmas holiday celebrated by Christians. Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas that many non-Jews come to believe (Jewish Virtual Library, 2011).
The Hanukkah celebration praises a miracle which is said to have occurred during the Maccabean Revolt. It is said that God made the one day's worth of oil burn for eight days, thus giving us the term Festival of Lights. There is only one essential ritual of Hanukkah and it is the lighting of candles. The Hanukkah candles are held a candelabrum which holds nine candles. This is special form of menorah (Molloy, 2010). The menorah in the Jewish faith is believed to portray the burning bush which Moses saw as depicted in the Hebrew Bible or Torah (WiseGeek.com, 2011).
The order of lighting the candles is done by lighting one candle on the first night of Hanukkah, then two are lit on the second, and this process is continued until all eight are lit on the eighth night. The candles are added from the right, but lit beginning with the first one on the left; this represents the current night. Also during or after the lighting of the candles blessings or prayer are recited (WiseGeek.com, 2011).
A more modern tradition partnered with Hanukkah is of gift-giving, which may be derived directly from Hanukkah's nearness to the Christian holiday of Christmas. Jewish families may have adopted this tradition of giving small gifts to their children to relieve any jealousy that may take place of non-Jewish people who celebrate Christmas; which is traditionally a gift giving holiday. However, gifts are not exchanged with anyone else, and Hanukkah gifts generally tend to be smaller than their Christmas counterparts (Jewish Virtual Library, 2011).
There are other ways Jewish people of faith celebrate Hanukah. Some Jews celebrate Hanukah by play a games with dreidels. Dreidels are square tops that have four Hebrew letters with one on each side. The letters stand for the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days. Children will often play a gambling game with dreidels for pennies or chocolate candy coins (Devoto, 2010).
Many Jewish people of faith celebrate Hanukkah in their own ways. Some families have adopted their own traditions, and on the other hand, some more traditional Jewish families do not focus as much on this holiday. But many families do share the traditions mentioned earlier, and celebrate Hanukkah a modern spin (Devoto, 2010).
Within Judaism and other religions today, divisions exist based on variations in the observance of their religious belief. Even though some Jews have held on to more traditional practices, we see that other branches have developed based on the opinion that Judaism will stay vital only if a different interpretation of their traditions takes place (Molloy, 2010).
We all have opinions of how something should or should not be done. With religious faith at some point in time there will be some type of evolution. With evolution one must be aware that change is going to happen. The challenge is how one chooses to accepts that change or not. Change is not something that most people conform to easily; especially when dealing with religions and their many traditions and customs. This is the main reason why we see so many different branches of religious faiths. Basically what it boils down to is an individual’s thought as to how and what he or she worships. No one person has the right answers; it is just how a person interprets the questions asked, and how they react to it.

References
Devoto, L. (2010, July 01). How do people celebrate Hanukkah? Retrieved from http://www.mademan.com/mm/how-do-people-celebrate-hanikkah.html
History.com. (2011). Hanukkah. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/hanukkah
Jewish Virtual Library. (2011). Chanukah. Retrieved from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/holiday7.html
Molloy, M. (2010). Experiencing the world’s religions: Traditions, challenge, and change (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
WiseGeek.com. (2011). What is a menorah? Retrieved from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-menorah.htm

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