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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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