Chanukah 5777 חנוכה

חנוכה I love Chanukah! ❤ The miracles, the inspirations, the music, the history, the light, the deliverance from oppression and terror, standing against evil, prevailing, the victory, faithfulness, perseverance, the dreidels, the chanukiyot and of course, one of the main ingredients of any Jewish celebration – the food! 😀 Chanukah is every year on the 25th of Kislev (9th Hebrew month). Also called Chag HaUrim (Festival of Lights). This year, 5777 (2016), it starts on the evening of the 24th of Dec. Chanukiyot is the plural form of Chanukiah, also spelled Hanukkiyah, which is the special Menorah for Chanukah. I love seeing the variety and history of Chanukiyot from different countries.

Music is such an integral part of our lives. I was almost done this blog post when I read the supercool articles, Supercool Music: A Living Article© Part 17: Supercool December Holidays Music – Part A & Supercool Music: A Living Article© Part 18: Supercool December Holidays Music – Part B, written by my friend, Jean. She has reviewed Chanukah songs as well as Christmas songs in her two newest articles she’s posted this month on her blog, Supercool Music: A Living Article©. If you love great writing and music, you’ll want to check them out! Jean is supercool, supersmart and supernice! 😀 And she is a definite music expert! 😎 She talks beautifully about several of my favorite Chanukah songs ~
Happy Hanukkah by Matisyahu – absolutely love this song!
Oy Chanukah by Theodore Bikel (He also does an awesome Maoz Tzur) Great song.
Sevivon Sov Sov ~ super fun song to sing!
Ocho Kandelikas by Yasmin Levy She sings this song so beautifully. I’ve liked all Ocho Kandelikas by all the artists I’ve heard so far.

Plus, Jean wrote about several great Christmas songs – Away in a Manger by Celtic Thunder I really like a lot, for one. Some I haven’t heard yet. Speaking of Christmas songs, O Come O Come Emmanuel is beautiful, too. You can learn a lot on Jean’s blog and she always has a most beautiful, spiritual aspect that is a reflection of the song. 😎 ❤

Chanukah is celebrated for 8 nights (days, too, of course.) What we commemorate and celebrate is the wonderful nisim (miracles) and awesome deliverance from oppression and evil. In the holy city of Yerushalayim, pagans mocked HaShem and dared to wickedly desecrate בית המקדש the Beit HaMikdash (Temple). Something needed to be done..Who would stand up? Who wouldn’t allow that blatant evilness to continue? There were many heroes and heroines – the Maccabees, Yehudit (Judith), Chana and her sons – everyone who fought against the oppression and the wicked acts, refusing to become a part of it. Each person did what they could and HaShem – the Creator – blessed and won the victory for us. בית המקדש the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) was re-dedicated after cleaning it up from the pagans. That took a bit of work, the Menorah had been melted down and stolen, for one. The miracle of the light that continued was this: the oil for the menorah, which what was left was only enough for one day, lasted for eight days – when the new was ready!

Like at פסח Pesach  (Passover), we imagine ourselves there, picturing what it would have been like back then dealing with all of that. We can relate and apply it to current situations. That is one way to always learn from the past and from our ancestors. The determination of a nation overriding the fear of failure as well as the very real threat of death. The Greeks outnumbered us and assimilation was another huge threat. It was a lot more serious than just not having electricity, internet, phones, TV, indoor plumbing! – that alone is not fun to imagine, but there were evil people who threatened to kill any Jew who followed and worshipped the One True King of the Universe. And many Jews were killed. 😥

Then to add insult to injury, the pagans desecrated בית המקדש the Beit HaMikdash (Temple), worshipping their false idols in there. Blatantly mocking the One True One and His people. So someone or several someones needed to stand up and fight against the evil. The bravery and faithfulness of those who stood up are inspiring still today, after so many years. Some we know about such as ~ Matityahu and his sons Yonatan Eleazar, Yehuda, Shimon, Yochanan, known as the Maccabees, and Yehudit, a clever, brave woman fought and won against a Greek general who was evil, a brave family, courageous Chana along with her seven brave sons, none of them giving in and refused to serve idols, were all killed by Antiochus’army. It was a hard, dangerous fight, but victory was given by the One above. Whenever you see me speak of HaShem, this is Hebrew for “The Name”, this is one of many Names for the Creator, King of the Universe, Wonderful, Counsellor – all One.

ישועYeshua (Jesus), of course, celebrated Chanukah, which means dedication in Hebrew. “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.” John 10:22-23

Lights are very important to Chanukah, as in the flames from the eight candles on the chanukiah (menorah). They represent the eternal flame of hope, the faithfulness of HaShem, the Light driving out the darkness in lives and in the world. That Light is the reflection of Yeshua.

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

And I will bring the blind by a way [that] they knew not; I will lead them in paths [that] they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

Now to talk about the food minhagim, aka traditions! As the saying goes, they tried to kill us, HaShem stopped them – let’s eat! Every Jewish family has specific traditions and even those can vary from year to year. It can vary in a family, which allows for good, healthy, discussions/debates about a number of subjects. Like what, for instance, you ask? Latkes (Yiddish for potato pancakes) or levivot (Hebrew for latkes/potato pancakes) vs sufganiyot (doughnuts)! In Israel, sufganiyot are usually the winners. It just matters whether you like doughnuts or latkes better. Both are delicious! The connection they have to the history of Chanukah is that they are usually fried in oil.

dreidel-match-3I love dreidels (Yiddish)/sevivon (Hebrew) – I have several but don’t ask me which one is my favorite. Love all the ones I have. 😀 If you’ve never played the dreidel game before, here’s what it is ~ a top, basically, that each person in the game spins during their turn. After the player twirls the top of the dreidel (sevivon), it will sov sov sov (spin), how many times it will sov depends on the surface of the playing area and how much of a sov you put on it. 😀 So then it will land on its side, with one of the sides facing upward. On each side is a Hebrew letter נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (Hey), ש (Shin). They stand for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, which means “A great miracle happened there” (if you’re not in Israel). If you’re in Israel, then the letter will be פ (Pay) instead, which stands for Poh (here), Since teaching and studying Hebrew and Torah were outlawed with a threat of death during that time, this was a way to learn while appearing to just play a game. You can benefit from some games.

Another great, lively topic/discussion/debate ~ spelling Chanukah one way or another won’t mess up your fun – even if you get in a debate/discussion with a family member about the correct way! :p My family personally prefers Chanukah since that is the more literal from the Hebrew since it starts with ח (Chet).

dreidel-tap-appThere are a lot of great, fun apps for Chanukah as well! 😎 Dreidel Tap and various match games among others! 🙂

Interesting that both Chanukah and Christmas both start with “Ch”. There are also a lot of Jewish connections with Christmas. Quite a number of popular Christmas songs were written by Jewish composers and many are sung by Jewish artists. It’s wonderful that a day is set aside to celebrate the birth of a Jewish baby boy. Truly, who can complain about a holiday when so many are speaking nicely about a nice Jewish boy, Who is our Mashiach.

I’m thankful He has brought us to this season. May your Chanukah and/or Christmas celebrations and each day be filled with Light, Love, Joy, Shalom, Tzedakah (charity), Happy Laughter, Fun and Food! ❤

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” Matthew 5:14

נ NUN. “Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Tehillim/Psalms 119:105

“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

“The LORD [is] my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD [is] the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Tehillim/Psalms 27:1

Chaya חיה

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My Review for The Silent Blade by Jesseca Wheaton

The Silent Blade by Jesseca Wheaton is an excellent book and one I highly recommend! Great adventure in Ireland! The plot is so mysterious and exciting! I’m a picky reader and this kept my interest right from the start and carried all the way through the book. Difficult to put down when I had to do other things!

The cover is very cool – I like it a lot! 🙂

Synopsis from author ~

Eira O’Brien has no greater desire than to see her life returned to what it once was—before her older brother Kevin’s sudden disappearance four years earlier. But the simple life she hoped for seems unattainable; on the contrary, her life is about to get all the more complicated.

When she suddenly finds herself and Willem, her twin brother, taken captive by someone who claims to be Kevin’s enemy, things go from bad to worse. It soon becomes clear that she and Willem are to become bait in a trap set for Kevin, and Eira knows she must try to warn him. But how, when she herself is a captive?

As mysteries of the past are unveiled, and loyalties are revealed, Eira realizes how precious her friends truly are. And when mortal danger threatens those nearest to her, will she be able to trust God with the lives of her friends and family?

I just love how beautiful the land, sky and sea were described in chapter one! It’s very important to me for an author to paint an accurate scene and make the reader feel as if you are there. For this book: mission accomplished. 🙂

Eira is very likable and nice. A real person. Relatable. Curious like me. Love that she is skilled with a sword. Feisty. I can cook, though. Eira, by her own admission, can’t cook very well. It’s been said that what she cooks is not fit to eat (treif 😉 ).

Her brothers are also very cool and likable and so is Casimir!!!!!!!! ❤ Strong, good, kind and real. Loved that. ❤

I appreciate the characters trusting and knowing the One in Control and praying to Him. Shows much intelligence. Each character is an individual.

Many great quotes in the book that are a real blessing. Here are two of them ~

“One person can do quite a lot.” ~ Kevin

“Win or lose the battle, you’re on the winning side because you know the Lord.” ~ Rowen

The mystery is exciting and intriguing. As I read, I searched for clues on whom to trust and not to trust. Also, to figure out what was going on – very mysterious and tantalizing and it’s easy to keep reading to find out.

I think that’s an excellent point in the notes following the story that everyone would be speaking in Gaelic (Gaeilge).

Some clever and beautiful twists in the book that I really liked. Plus, I like getting the answers to some of the other characters’ stories as well. Great message of forgiveness and not letting the wrong things define you and rule your actions.

I like that the characters’ faith is real and they live it and not just talk about it. Really cool.

It’s pretty obvious I really get into the books I read. I’m there with the characters and it’s important for the writer’s words to make them real and cause the reader to care about them. That was done very well in this book.

There is a scene where a bad guy slaps Eira and she wrongly said she guessed it was as much her fault as his (although I could tell she didn’t really believe that, she was trying to keep her brother and Casimir from being upset. They were right to be upset!) I would like to say to her, “Eira, you didn’t ask for that. It wasn’t your fault he chose to be a jerk.” It’s right to have a compassionate, caring, forgiving heart without disrespecting yourself. Yes, he had a rough life, but also she’s not doing him or herself any favors by also blaming herself and saying he didn’t strike her. He did strike/hit/slap her. Her brother and her potential boyfriend shouldn’t be lied to, but she did tell them when they correctly persisted in asking her.

There are so many cool things in this book and if you like historical adventure, you should love this like me. I’m so glad I saw a review for it on a friend of mine’s, Mikayla’s, blog The Bubblegum Ballerina. (Check it out!) 🙂 That’s what a nice friend does, shares about good books. 🙂

Two of my favorite names from the book: Aaron, which I’ve always liked, and Eira, which means snow. Also, Lydia is such a pretty name. Okay, and another favorite, Michel. 🙂

The romance is beautiful. One of my favorite scenes is towards the end. I could read that over and over. One more quote! ~

“”Just follow me. I promise, I can. Trust me.” Casimir looked down at her with a smile, his eyes steady, never leaving her face.” Can you hear my dreamy sigh? 😉 🙂

The Silent Blade by Jesseca WheatonThis is a smart, well-written book. Love the family closeness and siblings. It doesn’t matter to me whether a book is published by a big publisher or independently. What does matter is quality and that’s what this book has. It has quality writing and integrity that too often is missing from big publishers’ books, and I’m referring to all including companies known as Christian. The Silent Blade is an inspiring read and one I will want to read again.

I now have another favorite book and author! 🙂 Todah rabah (thank you very much!) for writing such a great story, Jesseca, and please write more! ❤

Chaya חיה