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6 Essential Hanukkah Sites

December 15, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
For eight nights each year, Jews celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. This joyous time of year, which begins in 2008 at sundown on December 21, is filled with greasy yet delicious food, cheerful songs, spinning dreidels and the beauty of the menorah. Here are some useful links to help you create a special Hanukkah celebration with your family.

Discover the History of Hanukkah

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Though not the holiest of Jewish holidays, Hanukkah is certainly one of the more popular ones. The holiday reflects upon the miracles that occurred more than 2,000 years ago, when Judah and the Maccabees fought against religious persecution, rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and lit the menorah (a candelabra) with one day’s worth of oil that incredibly lasted for eight. For a thorough introduction to Hanukkah, including its history, traditions, music and food, be sure to see Judaism 101. The site is essentially an online encyclopedia on Judaism and includes a comprehensive overview of Hanukkah written in a friendly tone that’s useful for both observant Jews and non-Jews alike. 

Create a Festive Hanukkah Atmosphere

No Hanukkah celebration would be complete without candles burning in the menorah and spinning dreidels to keep the kids (and adults) entertained. Judaica Mall offers a huge selection of beautifully designed menorahs, dreidels and candles. There are more than 200 menorahs to choose from, including standard bronze, colorful glass, traveling menorahs and more. Choose from more than 50 unique dreidels made from wood, pewter or silver, and don’t miss the candle selection, including natural beeswax candles, handmade candles and even a beeswax candle kit to make your own. For unique Jewish gifts, use the links on the left to find cups, jewelry, ceramics, towels, wall hangings and more.
Torah.org lays out the three main blessings (or brachot) to be said when lighting Hanukkah candles. The prayers are written in Hebrew with an English interpretation and transliteration for each one. The site also explains how you should recite the prayers, in what order and on what days. Listen to audio recitations of the blessings, or look for more blessings at the bottom of the page. The links on the left offer more information on Jewish law, ethics and texts, as well as an audio version of the Torah.

Cook a Hanukkah Meal to Remember

Wondering why fried or oily foods are common Hanukkah staples? Such foods are served on the holiday because they commemorate the miracle of the oil burning for eight days instead of one. We can thank that legendary miracle for the delicious latkes (potato pancakes) and jelly doughnuts that are favorite Hanukkah treats. MyJewishLearning.com teaches you a bit about the Hanukkah culinary tradition and explains why Jews eat certain foods on Hanukkah. The article focuses on the significance of cheese and foods cooked in oil. Use the links in the left navigation bar to find recipes for a variety of crowd-pleasing latkes, doughnuts and fritters.
For some traditional Hanukkah recipes, such as latkes, doughnuts, blintzes and brisket, visit the Food Network. The site presents a long list of recipes, annotated with reader comments and reviews, that are sure to make your friends and family very happy. Look for gourmet twists on the classics, such as Tea Smoked Salmon with Wasabi Latkes, Red-Wine Braised Beef Brisket with Horseradish Sauce and Aunt Rifka’s Flying Disks, Buttermilk Nutmeg Drop Doughnuts and Ricotta Mascarpone Blintzes with Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote. And if fried foods don’t mesh with your diet, there are also some more slimming options to choose from.

Sing the Songs of Hanukkah

A rousing rendition of “I Have a Little Dreidel” is all it takes for most people to get in the spirit of the holiday. But there’s a lot more to Hanukkah’s rich musical tradition. Visit 123Holiday.net to learn about Hanukkah music and read the lyrics to five of the most popular Hanukkah songs,  “I Have a Little Dreidel,” “Sivivon, sov, sov, sov,” “Maoz Tzur,” “Chanuka, Chanuka” and “Chanuka, oh Chanuka.” The site offers English interpretations and phonetic spellings for each one, as well as links to Hanukkah blessings, poems and traditions.
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