Hanukkah is here – right along with Thanksgiving this year. Hanukkah is a festive Jewish occasion lasting eight days and nights and includes lighting of the menorah. So let’s take this opportunity to look at few fun things – Jewish- you might want to know about.
Fiddler on the Roof is a musical comedy-drama classic released in 1971. The award winning movie tells the story of Tevye, a Jewish father of five daughters. He and his family live in a Russian town during the Tsarist times set in 1905. This film relays his struggles as a father trying to preserve tradition as his daughters move further away from it. He is also poor and, being from the Jewish minority, lives in fear of harassment.
Despite all the problems Tevye faces in the story, somehow the film ultimately leaves you feeling very happy and hopeful. It’s a lovely musical as well. “If I Were a Rich Man” is still an epic treat. This is a highly recommended family movie that everyone can relate to and enjoy.
Next, let’s take a look at some traditional Jewish foods you may or may not have heard of. The bagel, of course, is a Jewish food rockstar. This boiled and baked donut-shaped bread is a food that has been around for at least 400 years. A common ingredient found in many Jewish foods is matzah meal or crumbs made from unleavened bread. Challah is the sweet, eggy bread that accompanies traditional Jewish meals on special occasions. For Rosh Hashanah, challah may be cooked in a round shape to symbolize the circle of life.
A very common Jewish expression is “mazel tov” or “mazal tov.” “Mazel” means luck, and “tov” means good. Outside of Israel, it is used to express congratulations mainly on happy and special occasions. At a wedding, for example, after the groom breaks the glass, the crowd would yell “Mazel Tov!” In Israel, however, “mazel tov” is more widely used to congratulate people on everyday occasions from getting a job to having a birthday.
Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah refer to Jewish boys and girls coming of age. Bar Mitzvah age for boys is age 13 while the Bat Mitzvah age for girls is 12. Boys and girls are considered accountable for their own actions by the time they reach Bar and Bat Mitzvah age. While ceremonies are common to celebrate the occasion, they are not required.
Lastly, the ultimate Hanukkah song and holiday favorite is Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song.” Sandler, easily one of the most famous Jewish actor/comedians in the industry, serves up his humorous perspective on being a Jew while everyone else is celebrating Christmas. In the song, he uses his silly but signature voice variations to sing a simple yet evergreen homage to Hanukkah. His rhyming is as clever as it is juvenile. Here is an excerpt from his song.
O.J. Simpson, not a Jew
But guess who is? Hall of famer Rod Carew- he converted
We got Ann Landers and her sister Dear Abby
Harrison Ford’s a quarter Jewish- not too shabby
Though many of us don’t own a yarmulke, still -have a Happy, Happy Hanukkah!
By Fatema Biviji