14 November 2013

Celebrating Miracles of the Past...

Who needs an excuse to light candles as the nights draw in and the temperatures drop? But if you do, then Hanukkah is a great opportunity to light lots of candles every night for 8 days! In the Hebrew calendar, the day begins at sunset, so the 1st day of Hanukkah this year, begins at sundown on 27th November. Hanukkah celebrates two miracles - a surprising military victory against all odds and a miraculous supply of oil to enable the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem. 

The Macabees, a small group of Jewish men led by Mattathias and his five sons, were able to defeat the much more powerful and experienced Greek-Syrian army that had invaded Israel and forbidden the Jews to worship in their Temple. The Hebrew word 'Hanukkah' means dedication and after the Macabee's victory, they rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem and were once again able to worship freely. This all happened during the time between the Old and New Testaments.

Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days. Each evening, candles are lit on an eight branched menorah called a 'Hanukiyah'. On the first evening, one candle is lit. On the second evening, two candles are lit and so on until the eighth evening when all eight candles are lit. 
 


Traditionally, each candle is supposed to be left until it burns out. This creates a wonderful opportunity to take time each evening to stop our usual routine and dedicate this time to thinking about the miracles, large and small, that have taken place in our own lives over the years. Just as the Temple in Jerusalem was re-dedicated to the Lord, Hanukkah reminds us to re-dedicate our own lives also.


In the Hanukkah story, the one day supply of oil needed to keep the Temple menorah alight, lasted for a miraculous eight days, (the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of sanctified oil), and so, Hanukkah is celebrated with edible goodies cooked in oil. In Israel, the favourite Hanukkah treat is 'Sufganiyot' - round doughnuts with a myriad of toppings and fillings. 


Cook up some fried goodies, gather the family and discuss together the symbolism of oil in the Bible. Think about the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying us and transforming us to be more like Yeshua. 

Here are some traditional Hanukkah recipes but feel free to be creative!  Click the links below:


... by Working for a Better Future



Each night, after the lighting of the Hanukkah candles, children are traditionally given coins, which adds to their sense of excitement about the holiday.
It gives the adults an opportunity to reward good behaviour and also to encourage children to give to charity from a portion of the money received. The tradition of giving is an integral part of Jewish life. It is seen as a righteous duty rather than a voluntary act. During the Hanukkah holiday it is customary to increase giving to charity. 

Donations for charity are collected in a 'Tzedekah' box. The word comes from the Hebrew word 'Tzedek', meaning 'righteous'. Hanukkah is a good time to remember those less fortunate than ourselves, especially as we are reminded of the miracles God has performed in our own lives. 

Family Project: Make your own Tzedekah box for Hanukkah. 
You will need: 
> An empty container with a plastic lid or old tissue box
> Paper to glue around the container
> Glitter, stickers, felt pens to decorate paper

1. Decorate the paper with your chosen design. 
2. Glue the paper around the container.
3. Cut a slit in the lid
4. Fill with generous giving 
5. On the last day of Hanukkah, gather your household together, empty the Tzedekah Box and decide which charities to bless. 


If you would like to help ministries working to relieve hardship and suffering in Israel please follow the link below:
http://www.yourpeoplemypeople.org/p/gdop-2011.html