Celebrating Hanukkah

image: Menorah Mosaic posted on flickr.com by m kasahara

Updated for 2009

by: Grayson Leverenz

The Hanukkah Story

Antiochus IV Epiphanes outlawed Judaism and persecuted Jewish people that denied the Greek gods he worshiped when he rose to power around 175 BC. He even erected an altar to Zeus in the Temple in Jerusalem. After years of war, the Jewish people, led by Judah Macabee, defeated the monarchy, and reclaimed their Temple in 165 BC.

The rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem kicked off the festival of Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew. Legend has it that Judah and his brothers wanted to light the golden menorah for the rededication, and were able to find enough olive oil to burn for one day. By a miracle, the oil lasted eight days, exactly the amount of time it took to produce new oil and keep the menorah lit.


Hanukkah plays a major role in the lives of about 6 million Americans. Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, begins on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Jewish calendar. The 25th day occurs every year between late November and late December on the US Gregorian calendar. In 2009, Hanukkah begins at sunset on December 11th and lasts eight nights.


Today, Jewish-Americans light a candle on their menorahs for every night of Hanukkah to remind people of the eight-day miracle. Each candle or oil lamp is lit by a 9th candle that sits either higher or lower than the other candles in the menorah. The sole purpose of this extra candle is to light the Hanukkah candles. That way the eight candles are only lit to remember the Hanukkah story and the miracle.


Jewish children traditionally receive gelt, or money, during Hanukkah. In the US, children often receive gifts on one or every night of Hanukkah, very similar to Christian children receiving gifts on Christmas morning.

To celebrate your own Hanukkah here in the US:


Fried foods take center stage during Hanukkah, especially those fried in olive oil. Potato pancakes, or latkes in Yiddish, are very popular. Click here for a recipe.


Jewish children often play with a four-sided spinning top called a dreidel during Hanukkah. Click here for a virtual dreidel game.


You can find traditional Hanukkah music, complete with lyric sheets in Hebrew and English, here.


A Rugrats Chanukah [VHS]. A children’s cartoon that’s fun for the whole family. The network removed the link to watch it for free, but it’s worth renting or buying.

For more on Hanukkah, click here.

Happy Hanukkah!

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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  1. that’s a great recipe for latkes, thanks!

  2. You’re welcome! I’m happy to help with the celebration!

  3. cool meornsah. cool, and ya besides that and they are nicelooking,and they can be amazeing.

  4. Hi Rahul,This is Sudheer here. One of my friends has fhinsied his MBBS and working with a hospital. He is interested in doing MBA from the reputed institutes. He has given CAT this time and missed the calls by 1 or marks. He is interested in applying for ISB thhis year. But before that He wants to work in coroprate environment. Can please let me know what are the jobs available for doctors in corporate world and the companies he should target. He is extremely talented which is proven by his CAT score with just one month of preparation.Thanks in advanceSudheer

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