Hanukkah Wishes (and Recipes) from Inspiration
Throughout the year, we work closely with several ministries to lead tour groups to Israel. Like many Christians, the Holy Land and its people are dear to our hearts—which means we are as tuned in to the Jewish calendar and its holidays as we are to western holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Sometimes these holidays happen in the same season, which is why most Christians are familiar with Hanukkah; the Festival of Lights. The eight-day holiday begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, which coincides with the Christmas season. This year’s observance takes place from December 16 to 24.
While many westerners are aware of Hanukkah, few are aware of its origins. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BC. Prior to this event, Jewish Zealots known as the Maccabees rose up against the occupying Greeks. When the leader of the uprising, Judah Maccabee, reclaimed Jerusalem with his brothers, they discovered that the Greeks had defiled the Holy Temple with their pagan statues and rituals.
The Maccabees began restoring the Temple so they could worship God in spirit and truth. One of their first steps was to light the Temple’s menorah, but they only found enough oil to last for one day. They lit the menorah anyway, and tradition holds that their scant one-day supply of oil lasted eight full days. This miracle allowed time to produce more holy oil. Jews recall this as an event when a small number of dedicated Jews were able to overthrow a powerful army, restoring their Temple for worship of the true God. In fact, John 10:22-23 even mentions Jesus worshiping at the Temple during His own observance of Hanukkah.
Today, Jews celebrate this victory and the miracle of the supply of oil by singing songs, giving gifts, playing the dreidel game, lighting a special nine-branched menorah, and eating oily, fried foods. These include latkes (fried potato pancakes) and soufganiot, a type of doughnut. One of our Israel travel partners, the team at Sar-El Tours, shared with us two of their favorite latke and soufganiot recipes…just in time for this year’s Hanukkah.
As we near the Christmas season, we hope you’ll keep the people of Israel in mind—and try something different in the form of traditional Hanukkah treats!