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Menorahs, Latkas, and Dreidel!

December 22, 2014

Hanukkah! As a Christian, I had minimal knowledge of the customs surrounding this lively Jewish holiday. Some sweet friends, Grant and Ericha, decided to open their home to several friends in celebration! Grant is a "smidge" Jewish, as he states, and grew up celebrating Hanukkah as well as other Jewish holidays.

Because everyone at the party was Christian, Grant made sure to give us a quick recap on the history of Hanukkah. He informed us that Hanukkah means "dedication" in Hebrew. During the second century B.C., the Jews sought to reclaim their temple from their Greek-Syrian oppressors. We recognize this time in history as the Maccabean revolt. It was custom to keep a candle lit in the temple at all times. The story of Hanukkah claims that the Jews only had enough oil to keep the candle lit for one day, but God miraculously kept this candle lit for 8 days! 

Above, you can see Grant lighting a Menorah in remembrance of that awesome miracle. In addition to the traditional lighting of the Menorah, it is custom to eat Latkas - a savory potato pancake. Um, yum!

Ericha informed us that you can top Latkas with apple sauce or sour cream. I tried them both, and I have to say that sour cream was my favorite. After everyone ate and learned about the history of Hanukkah from Grant, he invited us to play the traditional game: dreidel. 

Dreidel is a game played with a four-sided spinning top. Each side has a Hebrew letter which signifies what you are supposed to do with your "gelt". Traditionally, gelt is chocolate coins which act as the currency of this game. We chose to use M&Ms as our gelt. The dreidel will tell you whether to take all of the gelt pot, half of it, do nothing, or (gasp) deposit some of your own gelt. The goal is to leave the game with the most gelt.

Once we figured out how to properly turn the dreidel, it was game ON. Who knew that a Hanukkah celebration could bring out the competitive nature in us? I have to say that my first experience with Hanukkah was SO fun, and I am thrilled to have these memories. Thank you to Grant and Ericha for opening up your home and teaching us about the traditions of Hanukkah!

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