Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chanukah 2nd Night – Macabees, Freedom & Latkes

We celebrated the 2nd night of Chanukah with Other American Family (Mom, Dad and 3 boys) who also brought along a 10 year old Mexican girl.

I started our celebration with the story Chanukah from the The First Book of Maccabees:

"About 2200 years ago, Greek kings, who reigned from Damascus, ruled over the land of Judea and the Jews living there.

A Greco-Syrian King, Antiochus Epiphanes, forbade the Jewish people from praying to their God, practicing their customs, and studying their Torah. Antiochus forced the Jews to worship the Greek gods. It is said that he placed an idol of the Greek God Zeus on the alter in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.

In response to this persecution, Judah Maccabee and his four brothers organized a group of resistance fighters known as the Maccabees. They fought against paganism and oppression.

The tenacity of the rebels, which came from their steadfast faith in one God, is one reason this military victory has been so celebrated by Jews in future generations. In one battle near Beit Horon, Judah's small army is intimidated by the size of the enemy army and Judah tells them to have faith that God is on their side.

Against great odds, after three years of fighting, the Maccabees succeeded to drive the Greco-Syrians out of Judea. Chanukah proclaims the message of the prophet Zachariah: "Not by might, not by power, but by My spirit."

The Maccabees reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. They cleaned the Temple, removing the Greek symbols and statues. When Judah and his followers finished cleaning the temple, they rededicated it. On the 25th day of the month of Kislev in 164 BCE, the Temple was purified and rededicated.

According to tradition, when the Maccabees entered the Holy Temple, they discovered that the Greco-Syrians had defiled the oil which was used to Temple's menorah. Only one vat of purified oil remained - enough for only one day. It would take the Jews a week to process more purified oil. Then a miracle occurred. The Maccabees lit the menorah and it burned for not one, but eight days, by which time the new, purified oil was ready. This is why the Chanukah Menorah has eight candles (not including the shammes candle used to light the others) and one reason why Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days."

The 6 children then lit all 7 Hanukkiah, we recited the prayers, exchanged gifts and then we got to eat Latkes!

Husband makes the best Latkes! Latkes are traditional fare for Chanukah. Many holiday foods such as latkes and donuts are fried in oil, a symbolic ingredient that represents the one-day's supply of oil that burned for eight days.

To complete our celebration, Oldest Son read aloud Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky, Illustrated by Greg Harlin. Based on the diary entries of Louisa Hart, the step-daughter of Michael Hart, a Jewish merchant known to Washington, Washington told the Harts about meeting a Polish-born Jewish solider at Valley Forge who explained the holiday of Hanukkah to him. I highly recommend it for people of all faiths.


YayaOrchid said...

Oh, man! those latkes sure do look good! Donuts sound really good too!

Happy Hannukah!

Calypso said...

Yummm latkes!

Does husband have a recipe?

Happy Hannukah!

Bob Mrotek said...

Thank you AM. These last two posts of yours are very special. I hope that you and your wonderful family enjoy the holidays and your coming great adventure. God bless you all!

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I love latkes and I am not a potato eater. Actually I am a big fan of the deep fry (LOL.
Happy Chanukah to you and your family!

American Mommy in Mexico said...

YO, C and T - Husband grates the potatoes and boils them till almost cooked, cuts onion and puts it through the blender, he then adds flour, salt and pepper and frys up in vegetable oil. Serve with apple sauce and sour cream. So good.

BM - thanks for nice comment - I enjoy "talking" about Jewish stuff. It is special and fun for me.

Amanda said...

Thanks for the whole story of the Macabees, I enjoyed it. This is so interesting to me and so relevant to our faith also. "Not by force but by Spirit." Love it, Love it, Love it. Thanks for letting us know how to make the latkes also. :)