The holidays are upon us once again, and that means it's time for Hanukkah — the Festival of Lights.
The First Hanukkah
In the ancient land of Judea — which is now Israel — a force of Jewish men led by Judah Maccabees fought for their religious freedom. When the Jewish fighters retook the Temple from the Syrian-Greek Empire, the Maccabees wanted to rededicate the Temple by lighting the menorah. But the invaders had tainted all of the containers of sacred oil. Only one cruse of oil had the seal of the High Priest Yochanan, enough for one night. But when they lit the menorah, the oil miraculously burned for eight full days until a new supply of oil became available.
Celebrating the Miracle
Today, Jewish families light their menorahs for eight days in memory of the miracle in the Temple. Because the oil lasted eight days, the menorah has eight candles, plus an additional candle in the center that is used to light the others. Each night of the holiday, one additional candle is lit by the center candle until all of the candles are lit. Blessings of thanks are offered, and gifts are exchanged among family members. Sometimes gifts take the form of gelt, which is money, either real or symbolized by gold foil-covered chocolate coins.
Traditional Hanukkah Fare
Special foods are prepared during Hanukkah, traditionally using oil to remind celebrants of the reason for the holiday. Dairy products are also used in remembrance of Judith, a famed Jewish widow who saved the fighters from the Greek general Holofernes by feeding him salty cheese to make him thirsty. He sought liquid and drank a large quantity of wine, which caused him to be drunk and sleepy. While he slept, Judith killed him, and so the fighters were spared.
Typical Hanukkah dishes include sufganiyot, jelly-filled doughnuts; bimuelos, doughnuts rolled in cinnamon and honey; and latkes, or pancakes made with potatoes and served with sour cream and apple sauce. If you want to put a vegan twist on these favorite Hanukkah dishes, use dairy-free sour cream, vegetable oils or margarine instead of butter, and egg replacers instead of eggs. There is even dairy-free gelt available for those who want to avoid all milk products.
Celebrate Hanukkah at Beverly Hills Carmel
At Beverly Hills Carmel, Hanukkah is a much-loved tradition, and we offer kosher foods and social activities to celebrate it. If you're looking for a retirement community, you'll find luxurious living accommodations and the best quality care at Beverly Hills Carmel. Right now we will waive the move-in fee for anyone who moves into the community by the end of the year. Contact Beverly Hills Carmel today to inquire about getting a tour of our home. You'll be glad you did!