This evening we had the pleasure of enjoying the lighting of the first candle with our triplet grand-daughters. Of course we ate traditional latkes (potato pancakes). Our grandchildren's Rabbi is anything but traditional. Not only is she a woman, but a woman married to a woman! Definitely not my grandfather's kind of Rabbi, but she is wonderful!
We hope everyone enjoys the winter holiday season with friends and family.
Chanukah is not an "important" Jewish holiday as it celebrates an event that occurred after the Hebrew Bible was completed. However, in modern times, in competition with Christmas, Chanukah has assumed major proportions.
I think it is fair to say that both Christmas and Chanukah really co-opt the Roman "Saturnalia" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia . That winter holiday is based on the Greek "rebirth of the Sun" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_solstice). The ancients noticed that the Sun rose lower and lower as November and December wore on. There was a danger, if the trend continued, the Sun would not rise at all, and everyone would freeze. So, around the winter solstice, when the Sun begins to rise higher and higher, everybody lighted candles and were thankful the Sun was reborn.
So, "Yo Saturnalia", and "Merry Christmas", and "Happy Chanukah" and, for all the atheists in our group, have a "Wonderful Winter Solstice" (or, fellow Seinfeld fans, "Festivus for the Rest of Us")!
The Glickstein Family
PS: Note on English spelling of Chanukah (vs Hanukkah or Hanuka, ...)
The Hebrew Spelling is:
Reading from right to left, we have the consonant CHet (throat-clearing gutteral sound like the Scottish loch and German Bach) with the vowel A below it; the consonant Nun; the vowel U (as in blue); the consonant Kaf with the vowel Ah below it; and, finally, the consonant Hey. When I was a child, it was always written as "Chanukah".
However, some linguists got into the act and decided that "CH" was not the best way to represent the gutteral Hebrew sound the way it had traditionally been represented in loch or Bach. They used an H with a mark over it. Well, that got simplified into a plain H, and, as a result, many people pronounce it as "Hanuka".
The problem with that spelling is there are only six letters! You need eight if you are going to put one letter on each of the eight candles. So someone, who must have been unaware of the Hebrew, added an extra K in the middle and an H at the end, and the result is HANUKKAH which has become the standard spelling in major US media. Please note there is only one Kaf in the Hebrew spelling, so there is no justification for the double KK.
Please, as a Christian friend told me: "Put Christ back in Christmas and the CH back in Chanukah!"