CONTENTS

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photo by  Steven Stern

WHY NINE CANDLES FOR CHANUKAH?

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS YOU NEVER THOUGHT TO ASK

INTRODUCTION

PART I: DEFINITIONS AND BACKGROUND INFORMATION

CHAPTER 1: SCRIPTURE

  1. What are the different parts of the Hebrew Bible?
  2. Is there an easy way to remember the contents?
  3. What is the Talmud?
  4. What is the Mishnah?
  5. What is the Gemara?
  6. Who were Hillel and Shammai?
  7. Why is the Book of Maccabees not in the Hebrew Bible?
  8. So then where is the Book of Maccabees?
  9. What is the Apocrypha?
  10. Why is the story of Judith and Holofernes connected to Chanukah?
  11. Why is the story of Hannah connected to Chanukah?
  12. What is the Scroll of the Hasmoneans?

CHAPTER 2: TRADITION

  1. What is the difference between a Holy Day and a holiday?
  2. What other minor holidays are celebrated in Judaism?
  3. Why is Purim in the Hebrew Bible and Chanukah is not?
  4. If Chanukah is a minor holiday, why is it so widely celebrated?
  5. Are there special synagogue services during Chanukah?
  6. Do observant Jews work on Chanukah?

CHAPTER 3: OTHER BACKGROUND INFORMATION

  1. What does the word Chanukah mean?
  2. Are there any other etymologies of the word?
  3. How did the Maccabean revolt begin?
  4. What is the origin of the holiday?
  5. What is the meaning of Maccabee?
  6. Who were the Hellenists?
  7. Who were the Hasmoneans?
  8. Were the Maccabees fighting for religious or political freedom?

CHAPTER 4: HISTORY

  1. Is there outside corroboration for the story?
  2. Who was Josephus?
  3. What did Josephus write?
  4. H What did Josephus say about Chanukah?
  5. Is Chanukah mentioned in the Christian Bible?

PART II: TACHLIS (THE HEART OF THE MATTER)

CHAPTER 5: COMMON QUESTIONS

  1. Why are there so many different spellings of Chanukah?
  2. Why does the secular calendar date of Chanukah change every year?
  3. Why does Chanukah last eight days?
  4. Did the oil really last eight days?
  5. How did the story of the oil originate?
  6. Are there other explanations for why the holiday lasts eight days?

CHAPTER 6: MENORAH VS. CHANUKIAH

  1. What does menorah mean?
  2. What is a chanukiah?
  3. Why is there a ninth candle on the chanukiah?
  4. What does shamash mean?
  5. Why are there menorahs with seven candles?
  6. What are the different customs for lighting the chanukiah?
  7. When is the chanukiah lit?
  8. When is the chanukiah lit on Friday night?
  9. What are the prayers for lighting the chanukiah?
  10. What is the difference between Ma’oz Tzur and “Rock of Ages”?
  11. How long should the candles burn?
  12. Are there rules for how a chanukiah should look?

PART III: TRADITIONAL AND CONTEMPORARY CUSTOMS

CHAPTER 7: AROUND THE WORLD

  1. Who are Ashkenazi Jews?
  2. Who are Sephardi Jews?
  3. But don’t they observe the same Judaism?
  4. How is Chanukah celebrated by Ashkenazi Jews?
  5. How is Chanukah celebrated by Sephardi Jews?
  6. How was Chanukah celebrated in the Middle Ages?
  7. How is Chanukah celebrated in modern Israel?
  8. How is Hanukkah celebrated in the U.S.?
  9. How is Chanukah celebrated today in other countries?

CHAPTER 8: THE DREIDEL

  1. What is a dreidel?
  2. What are the markings on the side of the dreidel?
  3. How is the dreidel game played?
  4. What is gelt?
  5. Is the game played differently in different cultures?

CHAPTER 9: EAT HEARTY

  1. What is a latke?
  2. Why do Jews eat latkes on Chanukah?
  3. Can latkes be made from anything besides potatoes?
  4. Recipes for potato latkes
  5. Sour cream or applesauce?
  6. Why the differences in preferences?
  7. Why is cheese another traditional food for Chanukah?
  8. What do donuts have to do with Chanukah?
  9. How did chocolate coins become traditional?
  10. Are there other traditional foods from different cultures?

CHAPTER 10: THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTMAS ON CHANUKAH

  1. Is there a connection between Chanukah and Christmas?
  2. Why is the 25th of the winter month important?
  3. Why are lights important to both holidays?
  4. Why are gifts given on Chanukah?
  5. Are there ways to avoid the gift-giving frenzy?
  6. Are there any other gift giving holidays in Judaism?
  7. What kinds of Chanukah decorations are there?
  8. What is a Chanukah bush?

CHAPTER 11: POP GOES THE CULTURE

  1. Chanukah as a symbol and metaphor
  2. Are there many books, songs, TV shows, movies, and books?
  3. Traditional songs
  4. Modern songs
  5. Live-action movies
  6. Animated films
  7. Live-action TV Shows
  8. Animated TV Shows
  9. Documentaries