New Year of the Trees.
Trees are often mentioned in the Bible and Torah. The Torah is
often referred to as the “tree of life”. This year it is
celebrated on Feb 4, 2015. There are many customs
surrounding Tu B’Shevat, including planting young trees
To commemorate the rededication of the Temple,
Judah declared an eight-day festival to be celebrated
annually, beginning on the 25 of Kislev. He called the
festival Chanukah, meaning dedication.
Through the years, certain customs and observances have
become associated with Chanukah. Foremost among these is the
lighting of the Chanukah candles on the eight evenings of the
holiday. One candle is lit on the first night, and one more is
added on each successive night. Every candle is lit with the
Shammash, a special candle which lights all the others. Candles
are placed in the menorah starting at the right and are lit
from the left, lighting the new one first. After the candles
are lit, it is traditional for the family to sing Maoz Tzur
(Rock of Ages).
Children look forward to playing with dreidles that
spin dizzily before landing with one of the four Hebrew
letters (nun, gimel, hay and shin) facing upward. These
letters stand for the initials Nays Gadol Haya Shom, a
phrase from one of the Chanukah prayers, meaning “a great
miracle happened here.” Points are awarded according to the
Chanukah would not be complete without the latkes – the
traditional food of this festival. Gift giving among
relatives and friends has also become customary, as has
the giving of Chanukah gelt to the children.
Chanukah is a celebration of how we, the descendents
of Judah Maccabee, value the right to worship as Jews.