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Kaarsen van de Chanoeka


Chanoeka, also known as the Festival of Lights, is observed from the 24th of Kislev in the evening until the 2nd or 3rd of Tevet on the Jewish calendar.

During Chanoeka, we commemorate the miraculous victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian armies. When the Jewish people reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem, they found a small jug of oil that contained only enough oil to keep the seven-branched menorah lit for one day. However, miraculously, the menorah remained lit for eight days. To commemorate this miracle, as well as the military victory of the few over the many, we light the menorah for eight days and eat traditional foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) fried in oil.

We light the menorah in the evening when its light is most visible, except on Friday when we light the candles before the onset of Shabbat. The menorah is placed by the doorway or in a window so that passersby can see its light. This joyous festival of light is truly a family celebration. To further involve the children, they receive Hanukkah gelt (money) and/or gifts.

On the first night of Chanoeka, we light one candle on the menorah, and each subsequent night we add one more until all eight candles are lit. The candles are placed in the menorah from right to left and are kindled from left to right, starting with the new candle. We use olive oil or candles for lighting. There should be enough oil or the candles should be long enough to burn for at least half an hour after nightfall. We use a shamash, a helper candle, to kindle the other lights, and the shamash is placed in a separate holder on or near the menorah.

After lighting the candles, we recite the prayer Haneirot Halalu and sing the beautiful hymn Ma'oz Tzur. This festival brings joy and light to our homes and serves as a reminder of the miracles and triumphs celebrated during the time of the Maccabees.

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