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Chanukah Q&A

Chanukah Quiz
Test Your Hanukkah Knowledge!
Brush up on your Chanukah studies, and take the challenge!
Chanukah FAQs
What does the holiday of Chanukah celebrate? How is it spelled, Chanukah or Hanukkah? What does the word Chanukah mean? What is the ninth candle for? Is Chanukah a major Jewish holiday? Answers to these questions and more . . .
What Is a Kosher Menorah?
There are not very many requirements for a kosher menorah, and most—but not all—of the menorahs on the market are just fine. That said, there are some factors to consider when purchasing a menorah . . .
What Does
The word has become synonymous with the small band of Jewish freedom fighters who freed Judea from the Syrian-Greek occupiers…
Couldn't the Jews and Greeks Get Along?
The Jews and Greeks could have learned so much from each other! Instead, the extremists of both sides hit the battlefield
Were the Maccabees Barbarians?
The Greeks brought culture, rationalism, geometry, drama, and appreciation of beauty. What point is there in celebrating the victory of those who resisted progress?
Is Giving Chanukah Presents a Non-Jewish Custom?
I am having a very hard time, as the holidays approach, with teaching my children the beauty of Chanukah and not having them see it as a Jewish x‑mas. I know it has become somewhat of a tradition to give children gifts during Chanukah, but is this really a Jewish custom?
Chanukah with Alzheimer's
How to celebrate holidays and other events with people with dementia
What are we to do when someone in our family is suffering from dementia and is no longer able to celebrate the Jewish holidays as he or she once did? How can we make sure that Chanukah remains meaningful and enjoyable, as well as safe, for all the family?
I have a menorah, it is gold-plated, it cost about $50. To buy anything better, anything more expensive, would have seemed self-indulgent; who would benefit but my own family and the shopkeeper?
Is Chanukah Mentioned in the Torah?
Chanukah is not specifically mentioned, since the story happened after the Torah was written. Nevertheless, G‑d, who is above the limitations of time, included in the Torah allusions to Chanukah.
Why should a Jew need to incorporate symbols and rituals from the outside to add beauty to his home and traditions? There is so much depth and meaning in the rich heritage of Judaism...
I am an elderly man and I am hesitant to use Chanukah candles…
I understand your concerns about having burning candles in your house. As much as I wish I could tell you otherwise, electric lights just don't do it...
...As for eating latkes and playing dreidel, it's less clear when these traditions began. But both these customs are certainly many centuries old...
Why the Chanukah Gelt?
Reasons for giving Chanukah gifts
On Chanukah we give the children gelt. Why?
Why Don't Women Work While the Chanukah Candles Are Burning?
Since the miraculous victory came about through the heroic actions of Judith, the women of the ages felt a special affinity to the Chanukah lights...
Why Is Chanukah Eight Days Long?
Was the miracle seven days or eight days? A question with many answers!
Why All the Oil and Cheese?
Since its discovery, potato has been blamed for everything from lust to leprosy. The oily potato mystery.
What's the Significance of the Number Eight?
The greatly outnumbered Maccabees' resolve to battle the Greeks wasn't logical or natural. They drew on reservoirs of faith and courage that are not part of normative human nature...
What’s With the Candles?
When you use something physical, it gets “used up” and diminished. With spiritual things, the very opposite is the case
Why Do We Play With a Dreidel (Top) on Chanukah?
The common reason is that the simple little top was used during the Chanukah era to preserve Judaism.
Can I Light a Menorah Next to My Xmas Tree?
My daughter attends a private school where there are many Jewish children. She so much wants to light a menorah. We already have an Xmas tree, is okay to light a menorah next to it?
What Happened to Tractate Chanukah?
In preparation for Chanukah, my friend and I decided to study the tractate of the Mishnah that discusses the holiday. We were surprised to learn, however, that there is no such tractate. Why is that?
Is Chanukah a Minor Holiday?
My friend told me that Chanukah is a minor holiday, unlike Rosh Hashanah and Passover, and so we shouldn’t make such a big deal out of it. He said that the only reason it became so big was because of the season . . .
I don't get it. When did G‑d command us to light the menorah? Isn't Chanukah a man-made holiday?
I have an office staff member who celebrates Hannukah. Everyone in the office is giving gifts but her. Why doesn’t she celebrate Christmas?
I’ve been reading through the prayer “v’al hanisim” – “about the miracles” which we recite daily during Hanukkah. Why is there no mention of the miracle of the oil which burned for eight days? Isn’t that the main Hanukkah miracle?
Why Can't I Use an Electric Menorah?
I was in a bit of a hurry, so I didn’t get into it, but I would still like to know: what is the story with electric menorahs?
Why Do I Hear Blessings at Public Menorah Lightings?
Now, isn’t the mitzvah just to light the menorah at home? So why were the blessings recited at the public ceremony?
Why Is Work Permitted on Chanukah?
I have been told that you’re allowed to work on the holidays of Purim and Chanukah. Why are those holidays different than Passover, Sukkot and Shavuot, when most work is prohibited, almost like Shabbat?
Why Eat Latkes and Sufganiyot (Doughnuts) on Chanukah?
The earliest mention of this custom seems to have been made by Rabbi Maimon ben Joseph, father of Maimonides.
The Shammash: Why the Menorah Has a 9th Candle
The shammash – the "attendant" candle that is used to kindle the other lights – is set apart from the other candles (often higher or lower), on the ninth branch of the menorah.
Menorah Lighting for Someone Who Comes Home Late
If I light on time, it is likely that by the time my wife comes home, my menorah will no longer be alight. Does my wife light menorah again and make her own blessing?
Must I Give Gifts Every Night of Chanukah?
An underlying theme of Chanukah (and Chanukah gelt) is Jewish education.
Menorah vs. Hanukiah
Every year as Hanukkah approaches, writers and others struggle to find the right word. Menorah or hanukkiah? Are the two terms the same? Is one more proper than the other when describing the lamp lit on Hanukkah? Read here as we bring light to this subject.
Take the Chanukah Menorah Quiz
Test your menorah knowledge!
Can I Join a Zoom Menorah Lighting?
Many of us will be particpating in Zoom Chanukah celebrations this year. Read here what works and what doesn't.
Chanukah Heroes and Villains Quiz
See how much you really know about our Chanukah heroes and villains!
Chanukah or Hanukkah? Which Spelling Is Correct?
Should I write Hanukkah or Chanukah? Are Chanukah and Hanukkah the same? Here's the answer!
Why Candles (Not Oil) for Synagogue Menorah?
Rabbi Moses Sofer, known as the Chatam Sofer (1762–1839), writes that in most synagogues that he visited, they lit with beeswax. Was this ideal?
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