December 08, 2012

Happy Chanukah! Night One

Welcome friends to what we hope will be an annual tradition - our first Chanukah Blog Crawl, hosted by a group of Jewish cats and dogs and their parents where for the next eight evenings (through sundown 12/15), friends will share stories about the different aspects of Chanukah so everybody may be in on the celebration.

So, what's Chanukah?  Chanukah and its many spellings isn't a holiday - it's a festival.  A common name for Chanukah is Festival of Lights.   This eight-night festival always begins at sundown on the 25th day of the month of Kislev and ends at sundown on the 3rd night of Tevet on the Jewish calendar.  Chanukah commemorates Jews regaining their freedom and the rededication of the Temple after it was desecrated by the Seleucid Greeks, who were led by their king, Antiochus IV. 

The Seleucid Greeks, commanded the high priests (Kohanim, of which my late, dearest maternal grandfather was a descendant) to erect an idol  to their god, Baal Shamen, in the Temple and forced all Jews to bow down to it.  The Seleucid Greeks performed pagan rituals, including slaughtering a pig on the holy altar.  A couple different groups of Jews joined forces to stop assimilation of Hellinistic Jews and to end Seleucid oppression.  The Jews succeeded in regaining their freedom, and the Temple was rededicated.  Chanukah means dedication.

The story goes that very little undefiled oil was left to keep the candelabrum (menorah) lit in the Temple, as it was required to be lit day and night.  The small amount of oil that was found was expected to only last one day, but it ended up lasting eight days and a festival was established to commemorate the miracle of the oil lasting eight days. The eternal light (ner tamid) is kept in all modern-day synagogues, often symbolized by a lamp of some sort.

Chanukah was never a festival of importance and it isn't even mentioned in the Torah, what non-Jews call the Old Testament.  The only required observance was the lighting of the candles on the menorah and special accompanying prayers, a tradition we'll learn more about tomorrow night from our friend, Gromek as well as on Friday, 12/14 at sundown from our friends at Catself and PerPETually Speaking.  Chanukah often happens on the non-Jewish calendar in close proximity to Christmas, and as time went on in the United States, some thought of Chanukah as a Jewish Christmas, and it took on similarities to that holiday like decorating and the Jewish twist to consumerism, by giving one gift each night - something generally reserved for children.

It's been observed, and perhaps rightfully so, that it's odd that Chanukah of modern times has taken on that which the Jewish freedom fighters of the time fought against:  assimilation of the Jews.  Chanukah was gleefully looked forward to in my family.  We stubbornly hunted for where presents were hidden, pestered our parents for hints as to what we got, and after separation from family in Michigan by moving to California, visits from my maternal grandparents were eagerly anticipated.  I have a special memory of my darling maternal grandmother visiting  my elementary school, electric skillet in hand, to make latkes (something you'll learn about on the evening of Tuesday, 12/11 from friends TSK and Jet) for my classmates and me.

In the spirit of commemorating the miracle of eight nights, Ateret, Livia, Abbi and I fervently wish what'd seem a like a miracle now to come true: We wish that people would look beyond color, as in black cats and dogs, so that every furry purrson would be loved and cherished.

Please follow along in our Crawl by visiting Gromek tomorrow night and please click here to see  who's hosting the other nights!  I wish everybody a happy Chanukah, and on this night, I sign off this blog post by using my real name, Zahava bat Moshe ha Levi.


  1. Ah Lichtige Chanukah! Wishing a wonderful Festival of Lights to you three kitties and to your mom, too!

    We love the history of Chanukah and the bravery of the people who stood up to Antiochus' outlawing of Judaism.

    One of our fave parts was taught to us by one of our rabbis: Antiochus may have styled himself as Antiochus Ephphanes (the revelation of god) but the people called him Antiochus Epimanes (the nutcase).

  2. Happy Chanukah! Sending all the best for a season filled with light!

  3. Thank you for the story of Hanukkah--and its many spellings! When translating from a different alphabet all bets are off. Hope your first night and all eight nights are full of light and love.

  4. Chag Sameach! to our new friends.

  5. Oy! Oy! I just read your "About"!! I'm from Detroit! Which suburb you in? Like maybe WB, or OP? I myself lived in RO for some pretty happy times, until I moved to -- would you believe -- Arkansas? Maybe you've heard of Adler Schnee? That'd be us! The Schnees, Anita here. A really chag sameach now!

    1. Oy is right and a happy oy at that! Please email me at I haven't heard that name. Let's email and "talk" some more!

  6. What a lovely start to the Chanukah Blog Crawl!
    Happy Chanukah!!

    Darlene & The Amazing Aimee

  7. Thanks for sharing this, I actually learned some hings that I did not know before. :-)

  8. Happy Chanukah to you!
    Oh and drop by, I've got something for you:)

  9. Congratulations. You did a terrific job in the opening post of this Chanukah Blog Crawl.

    You have set the bar high for all of us who are to follow! :)



  10. Such a great post to open the Blog crawl! Chag Chanukkah Sameach! :)

  11. What a great opening :) Have a great day xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  12. Hey Ateret, Hey Livia, Hey Abbi, Jet here.

    What a pawesome, informative post to begin the Festival of lights. Thanks for including us, btw. :)

    As a K9 with gorgeous black fur, I really appreciate your wish... as I frequently mention that black pearls like me are adopted 40% less often then felines and K9s of other colors.

    Chag sameach...

  13. We are so happy that you are all doing this blog hop. We know very little about Chanukah, because we never knew anyone who celebrated it. We are so happy to learn more. We think all celebrations of faith are wonderful and full of joy.
    Bright Blessings
    Harry, Dexter and Tipp

    1. Hi Harry, Dexter and Tipp! Thank you for visiting us. We're curious about all the goings on up in the northern parts of our state as you get ready for Christmas!