17th Day: Hanukkah (Celebrating Judaism)

On the seventeenth day, we celebrated yet another religion’s ‘festival of lights’; we celebrated Hanukkah!

    Hanukkah/ Chanukah is the Jewish holiday celebrating the miracle of the menorah oil lasting eight days when it should have just lasted one.  See, the pagans took over a Jewish temple and began sacrificing pigs at the alter (desecrating it because pigs are non kosher).  The Jews were able to retake the temple but had to keep the menorah lit with just one day’s supply; when a menorah is suppose to always be lit in a temple.  Many Christians will understand this tradition as we ourselves have a sanctuary lamp that is always to be lit in the church, in the Catholic faith it is usually located by the tabernacle.  The oil lasted the eight days and the Jews were able to make more oil in that time, saving and reclaiming the sanctity of the temple.  It is important to note that the celebration is for the miracle of the oil, not winning the battle over the pagans- Jews do not glorify war or violence.
    To celebrate Hanukkah, we did some at home crafts, played dreidel, explained the meaning behind why chocolate coins are given out, and went to a Hanukkah story time at Barnes & Noble!
    We started off with learning how to play dreidel.  It is actually a fairly simple and fun game, Marshall picked up on it quickly.  Each side of the dreidel has a Yiddish symbol on it, that signals the spinner as to what to do with their turn.

You start the game with all players adding to the pot- be it a coin, chocolates, or nuts.  Nun means the spinner gets nothing from the pot.  Gimel means the spinner gets the pot.  Spin a hei and you get half the pot, but a shin will mean you have to add to the pot.  Once a player is out of the chosen tokens, they are either out of the game or can take a loan from another player.

Upper left: Hei, upper right: Nun
lower left: Shin, lower right: Gimel

Marshall absolutely loved playing dreidel, he even beat me!  Even now, he keeps asking me to play.

Just loving this game


“Soooo, should I just take your gelt now or do you want me to spin first and then take it?”

The last event of the evening was making our Hanukkah crafts.  Marshall made a foam dreidel, Star of David, and Menorah present.



The seventeenth day was a special day of learning of a religion that is sort of the precursor to our religion, as well as the religion and culture of some of Brad’s ancestors.  It is so important to me that we do these special multicultural days.  Last year, a shooter opened fire in a Kansas City Jewish community center, killing three.  Just a few weeks ago, in Kansas City, a young teen was run down by a car because he was Muslim.  This is the community Marshall was born in, the world he will grow up in.  It is of the utmost importance that we teach our children that there are different belief systems, but that’s not inherently a bad thing.  We can still live side by side, in peace- in celebration of our differences yet similarities.  I hope that Marshall will learn to see the joys each religion and culture brings to the table, and I hope that you are maybe enjoying these special days too.  Happy Hanukkah, friends!


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