Tag Archives: Jewish faith

10 Things Kids Should Know About Hanukkah

Hanukkah begins tonight. Here are ten things kids should know about this special holiday.

1. Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew.

2. Hanukkah is one of the lesser holidays in Judaism, but because of its proximity to Christmas, many Jewish parents try to make it special so their children do not feel left out.

3. The story of Hanukkah originates with an act of Jewish resistance against the Greeks who took over the Jewish Temple in 168 B.C.E.

4. The Greeks prevented Jewish people from practicing their religion. They made practicing Judaism punishable by death and tried to force people to worship the Greek god Zeus and to eat pork, two things that are forbidden in the Jewish faith.

5. When a Greek officer tried to force Mattathias, a Jewish High Priest, to worship Zeus and to eat pork, Mattathias struck back. He and his sons killed the Greek officer and then hid in the hills around Jerusalem.

6. Other Jewish people joined with Mattathias and the Jewish people ultimately won back their lands and the Jewish Temple.

7. The Jewish rebels were known as Maccabees or Hasmoneans.

8. To purify the Jewish Temple, the Jewish people decided to burn holy oil for eight days. But when they arrived at the temple, they realized that they only had enough oil for one day. 

9. The miracle of Hanukkah is that the small quantity of oil lasted for all eight days.

10. Today, Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah by eating foods fried in oil, lighting the menorah, giving gifts each night, and spinning dreidels.

Learn more about Hanukkah – and the Jewish faith – by trying some new foods, reading books about Hanukkah, and playing dreidel.

Make some rugelach or mandelbrot.

Read children’s books about Hanukkah.

And here’s how to play dreidel.

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The Festival of Purim

EstherPurim has been described as a Jewish mash-up of Halloween and Mardi Gras. The story of Purim is well-known to readers of the Old Testament. The Book of Esther tells how Esther, the Jewish wife of a Persian king, saved the Jewish people from the plot of an evil advisor to the king, named Haman. 

Haman had a grudge against Mordecai, who happened to be Esther’s cousin. Haman convinced the king to send out a decree that called on the rest of the kingdom to kill all the Jewish people. This decree would have included Esther but the king did not know she was Jewish.

Esther – knowing that the fickle king could easily have her killed – asked the Jewish people to fast for three days and then she went to the king and informed him that she was Jewish and that Mordecai was her cousin.

The king promised to give her anything she wanted. Haman was hanged for his evil plan and Mordecai became the king’s advisor in his place. Although it was too late to rescind the order to have the Jewish people killed, Mordecai amended the order so that the Jewish people could defend themselves. The following day the Jewish people celebrated and it is this celebration that is known today as Purim.

Jewish people typically observe Purim by publicly reading the story from the Book of Esther, giving to the poor, and sharing food. Some people produce plays, dress up in costumes, hold beauty contests, and have parades.

One popular food on Purim is a cookie called hamantaschen. It is translated to mean “Haman’s pockets” or “Haman’s ears,” and their triangle shape is said to mimic Haman’s triangle hat. Check back tomorrow for a post on this awesome – and fun – cookie.

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