December 23, 1865
Last night the group went to Rachael’s home for a Hanukkah party. This was the first time I had been to one. Rachael gave me an explanation as we headed to her house. Hanukkah is also called “The Festival of the Lights”. Apparently Jews were in a fight with Greeks in Israel and there was a siege in a city. Supplies were so low that the candles for temple might not stay lit. But they kept the candles lit to honor God and, in a miracle, the candles remained lit through the siege (and the Isrealites won). The celebration lasts 8 nights and a menorah (with 8 candles plus a lighting candle) is lit each night to honor the miracle.
There is loads of tradition and fun around Hanukkah. There seemed to be so many songs about miracles or light or just plain fun. The children played a game with a top involved in betting. Once Liam found about this, he got Jason and Michael betting fiercely with the local kids over chocolate. Hanukkah also involved food (Rachael says every Jewish celebration seems to). The food we good was all fried and, oh so good. There was salmon and chicken. There were spinach puffs. A dish Rachael said came from her homeland was Potato latkes or potato pancakes. For dessert were these special jelly filled, fried donuts. Rachael also gave away presents. Each night a person gets to open a gift to celebrate the joy of the season. Rachael gave us each a small clockwork toy that plays music and dances. Rachael’s father gave her a set of gloves and a tool belt she could hang on her wheel chair.
Away from the gambling and shouting, others say prayers remembering those who passed and also giving thanks for blessings of the year.
I hope the holidays and New Year find everyone in good health and fine spirits.