Happy Hanukkah everyone.
The eight-day Jewish festival, which began at nightfall yesterday, is also known as the festival of lights, or the Feast of Dedication. It commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem and rededication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt.
As a child growing up in a relatively “strict” Roman Catholic family, I recall all the “Christmas” cards we received during December. Mom used them to decorate our home. I recall many of the cards wishing us Happy Holidays and Happy Hanukkah. This was from the late 1940’s through the 1960s.
While I attended a Catholic parochial elementary school, I also recall saying “Happy Hanukkah” and playing with dreidels (or similar toys). A dreidel is a four-sided top bearing Hebrew letters. I ate some Jewish foods (year-round) and drank sweet kosher wine, but I did not learn the full meanings and traditions until years later.
When my children were growing up, they (and we) had Jewish family friends. During the holiday season one Jewish friend went to our children’s public schools and explained the Hanukkah festival. During the eight-day festival, my children spent many evenings at their friend’s home learning about Jewish traditions, eating the special foods, and participating in lighting the nine light menorahs (Chanukiah).
While Hanukkah is a minor Jewish religious holiday, for me it is full of happy (and a few sad) memories, and I ponder the possibilities. One more time, Happy Everything, Everyone.
Look both ways to learn the stories our friends and neighbors have to share.
Mind the gaps because no two are exactly alike.