No matter how you spell it–Hanukkah, Chanukah, Hanukah, Chanuka –(Google lists 16 spellings!), the word means “dedication” in Hebrew, and refers to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Macabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and “re-dedication” of the Temple in Jerusalem. The modern home celebration of Chanukah centers around the lighting of the chanukiah, a special menorah for Chanukah; unique foods, latkes and jelly doughnuts; and special songs and games.
At our yearly Chanukah service, our members bring in their Chanukias and light them in unison as we recite the Chanukah blessings. We then turn down the lights and watch the candles burn, conjuring up images of the Maccabean heroes, the sacrifices we made to obtain our freedom in past ages, and the blessings we enjoy in a free society today,