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TAO Spirituality Groups: The South Florida Center for Jewish Renewal, Kabbalah, Spiritual, Meditation, Temple Adath Or, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Palm Beach, Boca Raton
Events & Holidays

Learning Events

  •  Wisdom Classes
  •  Spirituality Groups
  •  Saturday Morning Retreats
  •  Cruise Retreat

Community Events

  •  Campfires
  •  Fourth of July Bash
  •  Spa Day
  •  Tributes
  •  Mission to Haiti

Jewish Holidays

  •  Chanukah
  •  Days of Omer
  •  Passover
  •  Purim
  •  Rosh Hashanah
  •  Selichot
  •  Shavu'ot
  •  Simchat Torah
  •  Sukkot
  •  Yom Kippur

TAO: The South Florida Center for Jewish Renewal, Kabbalah, Spiritual, Meditation, Temple Adath Or, Synagogue, Shul, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Palm Beach, Boca Raton, South Florida, Rabbi Shoni Labowitz, Rabbi Marc Labowitz
Chanukah Dates

25th of Kislev

Chanukah begins at sunset on...

5770 - Fri, Dec. 11-19, 2009
Light first candle sunset on the 11th

5771 - Wed, Dec. 1-9,2010
Light first candle sunset on the 1st

5772 - Tue, Dec. 20-29, 2011
Light first candle sunset on the 20th

5773 - Sat, Dec. 8-16, 2012
Light first candle sunset on the 8th

5774 - Wed, Nov. 27-Dec. 5, 2013
Light first candle sunset on the 27th

5775 - Tue, Dec. 16-24, 2014
Light first candle sunset on the 16th

5776 - Sun, Dec. 6-14, 2015
Light first candle sunset on the 6th

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Chanukah Dates  •   Menorah Prayers  •   Chanukah 2008 Photos  •   Latke Recipe

"On the 25th of Kislev are the days of Chanukah, which are eight... these were appointed a Festival with Hallel [prayers of praise] and thanksgiving." - Babylonian Talmud

The Festival of Lights

One of the best known Jewish holidays because of its closeness to Christmas, many Christmas customs like gift-giving and decoration have been adopted. Ironically Chanukah is rooted in the suppression of Judaism and a revolt against assimilation, it has become the most assimilated, material holiday on the Jewish calendar.

Chanukah is not an important Jewish holiday like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover or Shavu'ot. It is more or less like Purim in importance. Chanukah is not stated in Jewish doctrines. The story is told in the book of Maccabees.

The Story of Chanukah

Alexander the Great, who ruled 356-323 B.C.E., conquered Syria, Egypt and Palestine. He permitted the people in his lands to continue observing their own religion. Under his reasonably kind rule, many Jews incorporated the Hellenistic culture, language, customs and dress... just like we blend into American society.

More than 100 years later, Antiochus IV was in control. He severely massacred Jews, placed a Hellenistic priest in the Temple, prohibited Jewish practices, and desecrated the Temple sacrificing pigs, a non-kosher animal, on the altar. Opposing Antiochus were a nationalistic group led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee and a religious group, the Hasidim (the predecessors of the Pharisees no direct connection to today's Hasidim). Together these groups revolted. They won and rededicated the Temple.

The Talmud records show that there was only enough undefiled oil left for the Temple menorah for one day. The candelabrum was supposed to burn throughout every night. Miraculously, it lasted eight days, the exact time needed to acquire more oil for the menorah. Chanukah, an eight day festival was confirmed to memorialize this miracle. This holiday commemorates the miracle not the military triumph. Jews do not celebrate war.

Candle Lighting Ceremony

At sunset on Chanukah, we light candles in a menorah, a candelabrum, which holds nine candles, one for each night, plus a shamus, servant candle, at a different height. On the first night, one candle is placed at the far right. We say three prayers, after lighting the shamus: the first is a prayer over candles, the second a prayer thanking God for the miracles, and the third of appreciation for being here at this time of year. After the prayers, we light the first candle with the shamus and then replace the shamus. The candles burn for a minimum of a half hour and extinguish by themselves.

Each night, we add another candle from right to left. Candles are then lit from left to right honoring the newer first. On the final night, all nine candles are lit.


Chanukah candles are for pleasure, and we may not use them as a light source. Candles not used in the menorah may be used as regular candles.

We eat fried foods on Chanukah to honoring the miracle of oil. Ashkenazi Jews enjoy latkes, potato pancakes.

Gift-giving is not a decree. It has become common where Jews have are highly integrated with Christians. Traditionally only a small amount of gelt, money, is given.

Playing dreidel
This is a fun, traditional gambling game. With a dreidel, a square spinning top, children play for matchsticks, pennies, M&Ms or chocolate coins. The dreidel is marked with four Hebrew letters, Nun, Gimmel, Heh and Shin. Some say this stands for the phrase Nes gadol hayah sham, a great miracle happened there.

The Hebrew letters correspond to the Yiddish words nit (nothing), gantz (all), halb (half) and shtell (put), which are the rules of the game! The game starts with everyone putting in one coin (or matchstick, M&M, etc.) Someone spins the dreidel. If it lands on a Nun, nothing happens; on Gimmel, you get the whole pot; on Heh, you get half of the pot; and on Shin, you put one in. When the pot is empty, everybody puts a coin (or other game denomination.) This starts a new pot. The game ends when one person has all the cookies or coins! Then redivide winnings... because sharing is caring!

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