Hanukkah – Jerusalem, Rehovot

On the way back from the Old City we ran into a Hanukkah (in Hebrew: Chanukah – the “ch” is a scrathy throaty sound) parade (and a Yogurtland) on Jaffa Road, one of the main streets through Jerusalem.

Hanukkah is an eight day Festival of Lights (this year Dec 1st – 9th) which remembers the rededication of the Second Temple. In my Ulpan (Hebrew class) we learned a little bit of the history of Hanukkah, but also got to have a Hanukkah party, that started with the lighting of the Hanukiah (Menorah), a nine branched candle holder (one candle for each day of Hannukah, plus the center that holds the “server” candle used to light the others). We were also taught Hanukkah games (that I later found are only played by 7 year olds and younger) including one with a sevivon (dreidel), which has a Hebrew letter on each side (Nun, Gimmel, Hei, Pei). You’re supposed to spin the sevivion and call out a letter. If the sevivion lands with that letter up you win a chocolate. In another game two players had candles tied and hanging from their waist like a tail and the goal is to put the candle into a bottle. The winner gets a chocolate. Another game was a sufganiyot eating contest. A sufganiyot is basically a donut (looks like a Berliner) although I got in trouble in class when I pointed that out. During Hanukkah you’re supposed to eat foods cooking in a lot of oil (oil was used for light), and so powdered donuts are sold everywhere during Hanukkah (but not at any other time). The winner of the eating contest would get chocolate. Another Hanukkah food is levivot (basically a potato pancake but I kept my mouth shut in Ulpan this time).

All in all, Hanukkah was a fun holiday. It’s not as serious or religious as the other main Jewish holidays, and most labs and departments will throw parties with a lot of food, drinks, and games.

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~ by jonathanmtsai on December 10, 2010.

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