Hanukkah is a Jewish light festival that starts on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev and lasts for 8 days. This holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks.
After their victory, Jewish troops came back to the Temple in Jerusalem. They wanted to spiritually purify the Temple by cleaning it and then burning ritual oil in the Temple's menorah for eight days. However, there was only one day's worth of oil left in the Temple. They lit the menorah anyway and by miracle the small amount of oil lasted for eight days.
To celebrate this miracle every year Jews light a special menorah known as a hanukkiyah for eight days. One candle is lit on the first day, two - on the second, three - on the third, and so on, until eight candles are lit. The candles are placed in the menorah from right to left, but lit from left to right. Special blessings are recited each night before the lights are lit. A special candle called shamash is used to light the other candles every night.
It is customary to give kids gifts and money during Hanukkah. In our family this tradition is preserved by grandma and grandpa. Kids are off school during the holidays, and adults go to work and rush back home in the evening. We gather the whole family together and light the Hanukkah candles at sunset. My husband recites the blessings. We listen to the ancient language and thank God for granting a miracle to our ancestors many centuries ago. We also give thanks for giving us life, supporting us and allowing us to reach this day.
After that the kids sing Hanukkah songs and we drink tea with jelly doughnuts. Jelly doughnuts without the hole are called Sufganiyot. They're dropped into hot oil without being shaped and are then covered in powdered sugar and/or cinnamon. Sufganiyot are a traditional Hanukkah dish.
I learned to make the dough for Sufganiyot especially to be able to make this treat for my family. We start to make and fry jelly doughnuts early in the morning, and there is always enough dough for the doughnuts, and left over for pizza and pirozhki - and this is also a miracle!
Hanukkah is a wonderful holiday, full of light, family love and wonderful smell of Sufganiyot!
And now a quiz:
How many candles do you need to light the menorah for all 8 days? Do not forget that each evening you need the shamash…
The answer to this question will be posted on coming Wednesday, December 1st!