Meaning of Hanukkah Is Not Lost On Jewish Family
Posted December 20, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST
RALEIGH — Most people know about Christmas and the traditions that go with it, but what about Hanukkah? Thursday is the first night of the eight-day holiday.
Just after sundown, the Stern family gathers to light the first candle on their menorah.
"For eight nights, we get together to remember why we're Jewish, and why it's important to us," says Teri Stern.
After the candle is lit, the family sings three blessings in Hebrew. Hanukkah is known as the "Festival of Lights," and while it is not the most important holiday of the Jewish faith, its meaning is not lost on the Stern family.
"It's important to show the kids we're free to pray the way we want to pray and practice our religion because, for so many years, Jews were not able to practice their religion and study the Torah," says Ben Stern.
Around 165 B.C., the Jews reclaimed their temple from the Syrians Today, the eight candles on the menorah represent the eight days that the sacramental oil burned brightly in Jerusalem.
The dreidel is another symbol of the Jewish festival. Each side of the small toy represents a different Hebrew letter.
"Whenever the Syrians came by and looked in, they saw the kids playing a game, when in reality, they were teaching kids the Hebrew letters and the Hebrew language," Ben says.
The Sterns believe in teaching their sons a lesson in faith. They want to make sure their Jewish heritage continues to shine.
"We have to show them being Jewish is wonderful and something to be very proud of," Teri says.
It is also tradition to eat foods fried in oil during Hanukkah. Some common foods are potato latkes and doughnuts.