Religions and Spirituality

Fourth Night of Hanukah

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Fourth Night of Hannukah Credits: Jackie Lieberman
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SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ - Children at Temple Sholom lit the menorah to celebrate the fourth night of Hanukah tonight.

Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights, is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, and although it is considered a “minor” Jewish holiday, it is a popular celebration among Jewish families across America. According to ReformJudaism.org, when the Maccabees entered the Temple in Jerusalem and began to reclaim it from the Greeks, they immediately lit again the ner tamid (eternal light), which burned constantly in the Temple. However, they found a single jar of oil, which was sufficient for only one day. Miraculously, the jar of oil lasted for eight days.
In commemoration of this miracle, Jews light the menorah for the eight nights of Hanukah. Another popular symbol of Hanukah is the dreidel, a four-sided spinning top that is played with as a gambling toy.  Each side of the dreidel bears a letter of the Hebrew alphabet: נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (Hei), ש (Shin). Together these letteres form an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, which means "a great miracle happened there").  In the game, a player spins the dreidel.
  • If נ (nun) faces up, the player does nothing.
  • If ג (gimel) faces up, the player gets all the chocolate gelt (Hanukah money) in the pot.
  • If ה (hei) iface up, the player gets half of the gelt.
  • If ש (shin) faces up, the player adds to the pot
Hanukah has grown in importance, especially in the U.S., as a holiday that reinforces Jewish identity.  It has been introduced to many 
Americans outside the Jewish community through Adam Sandler's comical "The Hanukah Song" that centers on the plight of Jewish children who feel alienated during the Christmas season.  Sandler then sings a listing of Jewish celebrities, such as David Lee Roth, who "light the menorah."
 

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