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Hanukkah 101

Okay, so you made your first Jewish friend, or a new girlfriend or co-worker. First things first, mazel tov. Or do you have that Jewish friend you have known for a while who you always find yourself saying “Merry Hanukkah” to? No matter the situation, we have you covered for that time of the year.

So, your Jewish friend is pretty great and you want to do something special this year to help them celebrate Hanukkah in style. You checked out the big box stores and you can’t any reasonably priced adorable holiday stuff for them. (Good thing now you have Kosher Cards!) But with or without a gift or card, the least you can do is learn a little bit about the holiday. So here is your Hanukkah 101:


  • Greeks had conquered a bunch of land and desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem. Super uncool. After a while, some awesome Jewish people banned together to fight the assimilation and reclaim the temple! The very little oil they had for light should have lasted only 1 night. Guess what, it lasted 8. Hence the Hanukkah being “the festival of lights”. And all the food deep fried in oil. Blessed.


  • Candle Lighting: there are 8 days and 9 candles. Why do you ask? One candle is called the “Shamash” or the helper candle that knows how to party and is literally LIT for all 8 days. That’s because you light that candle first and use it to light all the other ones after. Pretty cool. You just add one candle each day to remember the miracle.
  • Food: Hanukah features some of the most amazing food you will ever have. A good portion of the food is fried in oil, to remember the miracle of the oil burning for 8 days. Latkes, Sufganiyot, chocolate gilt all together equals Christmas dinner x10. Tip: bring Tupperware and ask them for leftovers.
  • Dreidel: You probably know the song. Sing in your head now if so, if not look it up on YouTube. Also, look up the Hanukkah Song by Adam Sandler. In terms of important Jewish music, that would rank number one; plus, it’s informative. Okay, I digress. Dreidel is a spinning top that has 4 letters on each of its 4 sides. Depending what one you land on, you find out what happens with your chocolate coins. It’s basically gambling for children. Super fun. The 4 letters:
      • Gimmel – Gimmie, you get all the coins in the middle
      • Nun – None, nothing is given or taken from the middle
      • Shin – Share, you must put a coin into the pile in the middle
      • Hay – Half, you get half of the coins in the middle

That is the need to know.

So there is a little basic run down of the miracle, the fun and the significance. Hopefully this will help you breeze through a dinner, card signing or light conversation around that time.

Happy Holidays!

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