This Jewish Feast of Lights lasts for eight days during mid-December. Part of the celebration includes the retelling of the Hanukkah story. Over two thousand years ago, an army captured the city of Jerusalem. Judah Maccabee led a rebellion against the attackers and reclaimed the city and the temple. The Maccabees wanted to dedicate the temple, but there was only enough oil to light the special lamp for one day. To their amazement, once it was lit, it burned brightly for eight days.
When celebrating Hanukkah, the lighting of the menorah symbolizes those eight miraculous days. A menorah holds nine candles. Eight of the candles represent the eight days that the lamp burned in the temple. The servant, or shames candle in the middle, is used to light all of the others. Jewish families hold lighting ceremonies each of the eight evenings. Special foods are served and families sing songs, and entertain each other with riddles, puzzles, and dreidel games.
Read to your students the book Potato Pancakes All Around: A Hanukkah Tale by Marilyn Hirsh. In the back of the book, there is a recipe for a traditional Hanukkah food, potato pancakes. Make this treat with your class to sample.