The word Hanukkah means ‘rededication’ and commemorates the Jews’ struggle for religious freedom when, according to legend, the leaders of a Jewish rebel army called the Maccabees rose up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt of 167 BC (BCE).King Antiochus had taken over the Second Temple in Jerusalem and soon after ordered an altar to Zeus to be erected. Judaism was prohibited, circumcision was banned and pigs were ordered to be sacrificed at the altar.The Jewish rebellion that followed was led by Judah Maccabee, (or Y’hudhah HaMakabi, meaning “Judah the Hammer”).The uprising spanned three years until the Maccabees gained control of Jerusalem.They wanted to rededicate the desecrated temple, but could find only one container of the sacred oil they needed which had the seal of the high priest still intact.Judaism’s central text the Talmud, dictates only pure olive oil with the seal of the high priest can be used for the Hanukiah.The candelabrum is required to burn throughout the night every night but although there was only enough oil for one day, the candles miraculously stayed alight for eight days – the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah.This event became known as ‘the miracle of the oil’ and is now marked with an eight-day festival.
For Hanukkah, it is customarily eat fried foods to commemorate the miracle associated with the Temple oil.In more Northern communities, where olive oil was scarce and expensive, goose or chicken fat was often used for frying so potato pancakes (latkes), apple fritters, and other non-dairy fried foods became the norm.Is it Chanukah or Hanukkah? In Hebrew, Hanukkah is pronounced with the letter ‘chet’. The letter “H” makes the closest sound. So both names work.
Jewish comedian Adam Sandler originally wrote and performed ‘The Chanukah Song’ on Saturday Night Live in 1994.He debuted the fourth and most recent version of the song at the ‘Judd Apatow & Friends’ event at the New York Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall in November.Put on your yarmulke, here comes HanukkahSo much fun-ukah to celebrate Hanukkah Chanukkah is the Festival of Lights,Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights. When you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree,Here’s the fourth list of people who are Jewish, just like Jesus, Olaf, Punky Brewster, Scott Rudin, and me! Joseph Gordon-Levitt enjoys eating kugelSo does Stan Lee, Jake Gyllenhaal, and the two guys who founded GoogleAdam Levine wears a Jewish starSo does Drake and Seth RogenGoldberg has a gold yarmulke to match the belt he won from Hulk Hogan We got Scarlett Johansson, talk about a Kosher crushAnd if you need a higher voice to turn you on, how about Geddy Lee from Rush?We may not have a cartoon with a reindeer that can talkBut we also don’t have polio, thanks to Dr. Jonas Salk (smart Jew!) Put on your yarmulke, it’s time for HanukkahHarry Potter and his magic wand-ukah, celebrate HanukkahJared from Subway: God dammit, a JewBut guess who’s Jewish and can fix him? Loveline’s Dr. Drew (get on it doc!) Princess Leia cuts the challah with Queen Elsa from FrozenDavid Beckham is the king of soccer studs and also a quarter chosenRon Jeremy is fully Jewish and so is his foot-long buddyShia LaBeouf is half a Jew but 100 percent nutty It’s cool that Santa Claus who makes Christmas so merryBut we get two jolly fat guys: ice cream’s Ben & Jerry (both Jewish!) From New York to Iran-ukah, get up and celebrate HanukkahDon’t mess with us, oh Hanukkah, let’s all get along for HanukkahSo drink your Jaegerbomb-ukah and smoke your medical-chron-ukahIf you really, really wan-ukah, have a happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy Hanukkah