Teaching Students About the Jewish Festival Of Lights
The Jewish Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah, is a holiday that celebrates the miraculous victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks in ancient Israel, and the subsequent rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It is a holiday that is observed by Jews around the world, and is a wonderful opportunity for educators to teach students about Jewish history and culture.
One of the most important aspects of Hanukkah is the lighting of the menorah, a special candle-holder with nine branches. On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, one additional candle is lit until all eight candles are burning brightly. The ninth branch, the shamash, is used to light the other candles. The lighting of the menorah is a symbol of the triumph of light over darkness, and is a wonderful way to teach students about the importance of hope and perseverance.
Another important aspect of Hanukkah is the foods that are traditionally eaten during the holiday. These include latkes, which are small, potato pancakes that are fried in oil, and sufganiyot, which are jelly-filled donuts. Fried foods are eaten during Hanukkah as a way to commemorate the miracle of the oil, which lasted for eight days instead of just one, as was expected.
It is also common for Jewish families to play games during Hanukkah, such as dreidel, a spinning top that is used in a game of chance. The four sides of the dreidel have Hebrew letters inscribed on them, which stand for the phrase “Nes Gadol Haya Sham,” meaning “A great miracle happened there.”