Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowed in

We are experiencing our second round of winter weather. After five, count them five, days indoors we finally got out yesterday. The first thing we did was go to see Santa at the mall. It was important that we see him before Hanukkah starts. My little one had to ask Santa if he brings presents to the kids who celebrate Hanukkah. Santa assured her that he will be bringing her a present...after all Hanukkah is a very important holiday in the Jewish calender. It is certainly an important day in our house!

And now we are stuck in the house again. We are finding lots to do. We read a fun Hanukkah book called Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. What a great story! Then we read The Only One Club and were inspired to do some Hanukkah crafts. Now we're watching Disney's Robin Hood and we've got Madagascar and Wall-E standing by. And the bonus for me is that I get to blog and knit!

Tomorrow we plan to make sugar cookies. We were going to do that today, but my sister borrowed our rolling pin. And of course Hanukkah starts tomorrow.

What does Hanukkah look like for the atheist Jew? We have traditions that we love and new traditions that we started. Making decorations is one thing we do every year and every year as our daughter gets older the decorations change. We also light candles in the menorah each night for eight nights. The adults exchange gifts on the first night, our daughter gets presents every night and we have friends over for a Hanukkah dinner. This year our Hanukkah dinner is the last night. We always make potato latkes. One of these years my husband, the passionate baker, will make sufganiyot (soof -gah - nee - yoat) little donuts. The idea is to cook things made with oil.

Potato latkes and sufganiyot are both fried in oil. This is to remember the story of the rededication of the old temple. After it's destruction and a fight, the Jews took back the temple. In the temple is the eternal light. There was only enough light to keep the light lit for one day. It took them eight days to make the oil and the one day of oil lasted those eight days. That's why we cook things in oil and why Hanukkah lasts eight days. Hanukkah means dedication. And so the story goes. We love the tradition of it all. For us it's not a religious thing. It's about family, traditions and age old stories (and some new ones).

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