Chanukah begins Sunday, here's what you need to know - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Chanukah begins Sunday, here's what you need to know

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Sunday night marks the beginning of Chanukah. Chabad of Spokane County has put together a quick FAQ with what you need to know to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights.

What does the holiday of Chanukah celebrate?

Chanukah is celebrated for two reasons:

a) The 2nd century BCE victory of a small, greatly outnumbered and out-armed army of Jews, known as the “Maccabees,” over the Greek army.

b) The kindling of a seven-branched Menorah (candelabra) was an important component of the daily service in the Holy Temple. When the Maccabees liberated the Temple from the hands of the Greek invaders, they found only a small cruse of pure and undefiled olive oil fit for fueling the Menorah. The problem was, it was sufficient to light the Menorah only for one day, and it would take eight days to produce new pure oil. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days and nights.

How is it spelled, Chanukah or Hanukkah?

In the Hebrew, Chanukah is pronounced with the letter chet. The chet’s “ch” sound is not enunciated like the “ch” in child; rather it’s a guttural, throaty sound—like the “ch” in Johann Bach—which does not have an English equivalent. The letter “H” is the closest, but it’s not really it. So while some people spell and pronounce it “Chanukah” and others settle for “Hanukkah,” they really are one and the same.

Why does the date of Chanukah seem to change each year?

Chanukah begins on the twenty-fifth day of the Jewish month of Kislev. The Jewish calendar is primarily based on the lunar cycle, and its dates fluctuate with respect to other calendar systems. Thus the first day of Chanukah can fall anywhere between November 28th and December 26th.

How is Chanukah celebrated?

On each of the eight days of Chanukah, Jewish people light the menorah, a nine-branched candelabra, after nightfall (aside for Friday afternoon, when the candles are lit shortly before sunset). On the first night they kindle one light plus the shamash (attendant candle), on the second night they kindle two lights plus the shamash, and continue until the eighth night when all eight lights plus the shamash are lit. The menorah lights can be either candles, or oil and wicks.

It is traditional to eat foods fried in oil on Chanukah, to commemorate the miracle of Chanukah which occurred with oil. It is also customary to eat dairy foods during the holiday.

It is customary on Chanukah to give money gifts to children, and to play dreidel games.

It is also customary to give an increased amount of charity each day of Chanukah.

For more Chanukah info and upcoming events to celebrate, visit Chabad of Spokane County at http://www.jewishspokane.com

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