Happy Hanukkah!

No matter how you spell it, Hanukkah or Chanukah, is an annual holiday known as the Festival of Lights which commemorates a miracle that occurred in Jerusalem.

In 165 BCE the Jewish people revolted against their oppressors, and rededicated a sacred temple to mark the occasion. According to the Talmud (the central text of Jewish theology), after the temple was cleaned, olive oil was needed to fuel the light of the menorah (candelabrum). Though there was only enough oil to burn for one day, the oil lasted eight full days. On Hanukkah, Jewish people celebrate what is considered to be a great miracle that occurred, and the religious freedom it represents.

When is Hanukkah?
On the Hebrew calendar, Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25 of Kislev, and continues for eight days in honor of the oil that lasted in the Holy Temple. The name “Hanukkah” means “dedication” in Hebrew. This year Hanukkah takes place from Sunset on December 10th, 2020 until Nightfall on December 18th, 2020

How is Hanukkah celebrated?
Unlike some other Jewish holidays where work is forbidden, there are no restrictions on doing work during Hanukkah. On each day, Jews light candles on a chanukiah (a nine-branched candelabrum called a menorah), starting with one candle and adding one more each day. The candle used to light the other candles is known as the shamash. Blessings over the candles are chanted and festive songs are sung, commemorating the occasion. Children (and adults) also play a game called dreidel, and it is customary to give Hanukkah gelt (money or chocolate coins) as small gifts.

What kinds of foods are eaten on Hanukkah?
During Hanukkah many Jewish people eat food that is deep fried, another tasty reminder of the miracle of the oil. A classic Hanukkah dish is crispy potato pancakes called latkes in Yiddish and levivot in Hebrew, often served with applesauce and sour cream. Another delicious Hanukkah treat is sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts), usually topped with powdered sugar. Sephardic Hanukkah donuts are called bunuelos, and are traditionally dipped in honey.

What is the proper greeting for Hanukkah?
To wish someone a Happy Hanukkah, say “Hanukkah Sameach!” (Happy Hanukkah) or simply “Chag Sameach!” (Happy Holiday), “Chag Urim Sameach!” (urim means “lights”).

West End Celebrations
This year Gordon Neighbourhood is celebrating Hanukkah virtually with West End Neighbours and the Jewish Seniors Alliance! Join us online for Chanukah music and candle lighting on Thursday, December 10th from 6:30pm to 7:30pm 

Registration is required to participate. Gordon Neighbourhood House has a limited quantity of gift bags with Chanukah candles and other holiday treats for those who register before December 7th. Email welcome@gordonhouse.org or call (604) 683-2554 to sign-up.

Gordon Neighbourhood House chef Amanda Bacaleinick has also prepared a special Hanukkah-inspired meal which is included in our weekly delivery to local seniors. 

Several West End restaurants and bakeries prepare traditional treats for Hanukkah. We have compiled a list of several businesses below. For more updates, contests, and promotions from local businesses, follow our friends at The West End Business Improvement Association (WEBIA) online. 

Breka Bakery, 821 Denman Street

Find an assortment of traditional Jewish treats at Breka Bakery, including loaves of challah (braided bread), kifeles or kuffles (crescent-shaped pastries wrapped around cream cheese fillings and dusted with cinnamon and sugar), and sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts).

Ofra’s Kitchen, 1088 Denman Street

Ofra’s Kitchen is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant located in the West End. The restaurant specializes in authentic, healthy, middle eastern dishes with an Israeli flare. Their menu includes hummus plates, falafel, shakshuka. Ofra’s kitchen is inclusive and welcoming to all.