Happy Chanukah, Festival of Lights

Happy Chanukah, Festival of LightsThis year I asked my good friend Norman Feiner to write about his thoughts and favorite jokes at the start of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights that runs for eight days near Christmas and other mid-winter festivals. So without further ado, over to Norman…

Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish festival commemorating the rededication of the Holy (Second) Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd century. The Jews, led by the brave Hasmoneans, demonstrated by their self-sacrifice that the light of true Torah belief cannot be extinguished.

The Chanukah story is symbolised from that event until today by the lighting of the Menorah-candelabrum in many Jewish homes, to commemorate the miracle of the tiny phial of oil found in the Temple’s ruins used to light the Menorah which burned continuously for eight days.

There is an old Jewish quip, ‘You know what they say about Jewish holidays – right? “They tried to kill the Jews, we were victorious, let’s eat…”’

…and with the copious quantities of oily foods – latkes, jam & cream doughnuts and potato & cheese blintzes – consumed over the 8 days of Chanukah to venerate the miraculous event, this epigram remains more relevant to Chanukah than all the other festivals celebrated during the Jewish calendar.

So, to put you all in fine Chanukah fettle allow me to present just a tiny collection of Norman’s Chanukah funnies…

Jews often celebrate in family groups, especially during this festival, so Miriam’s tale seems most appropriate:

Last year, just before Chanukah, Miriam, a grandmother, was giving full directions to her grown-up grandson who was coming to visit with his wife for Chanukah. ‘You come to the front door of the retirement apartment complex. I am in apartment 9A.’

Miriam continued, ‘There is a large panel by the door. With your elbow push button 9A. I will buzz you in. Come inside, the elevator is on the right. Get in, and with your elbow hit 9. When you get out I am on the left-hand side. With your elbow, hit my doorbell.’

‘Grandma, that sounds easy,’ replied Jonathan, ‘but why am I hitting all these buttons with my elbow?’

To which she answered, ‘Surely you’re not coming to visit your Grandma empty handed?’ “

As mentioned, Jews eat far lots of oily delicacies over the 8 days of Chanukah to evoke the ‘miracle of oil’, and this joke tickled my latke…

Moshe enters a kosher restaurant on Chanukah and orders potato latkes. The waiter brings him a fine selection but he does not like the look of them at all and changes his order to potato & cheese blintzes which he swiftly polishes off and prepares to leave.

“Wait a second,” said the manager, “You haven’t yet paid for your blintzes.”

“What are you talking about?” Moshe replies. “Those blintzes were only an exchange. I returned the potato latkes for them.”

“Yes, but you didn’t pay for them either.”

“Huh” said Moshe, “Why should I pay for the potato latkes? I didn’t eat any of them.”

Many Jews go to their synagogue to offer special prayers during Chanukah-time. This gag always gets me chuckling:

Hymie came home one fine Chanukah day from his local Reform synagogue with a dramatic black eye.

“Hymie, what happened to your eye?” asked his darling wife Becky.

“Well,” said Hymie, “it was like this. During the morning service, we had to stand up several times and on one occasion I noticed that Mrs. Cohen sitting right in front of me had her dress stuck in the crease of her bottom, so I leaned forward and pulled it out. But Mrs. Cohen didn’t like this at all; she turned around and smacked me full in the face with her prayer book.”

The next week Maurice comes back from synagogue once more with the other eye blackened too.

“And what happened this time, Hymie?” asked Becky.

“Well,” says Hymie, “it was like this. Once again Mrs. Cohen had her dress trapped, but this time my friend Chaim saw it. Chaim leaned over and delicately pulled out her dress. But I know that Mrs. Cohen doesn’t like this; so I tucked it back in again!”

With all the problems the Jews have experienced and suffered through the centuries, a missive addressed directly to…:

Dear G-d,

We Jews know & appreciate how You rescued us from Egyptian bondage by Splitting the Red Sea and the 10 plagues, and You saved us from the Greeks with the Chanukah miracle and we know we are Your true Chosen People, but why, oh why, couldn’t You choose somebody else for a change?”

And finally, a lovely story I once overheard … nowadays it is said that the miracle of the Chanukah oil is simply that, “on the first night of Chanukah you eat one large, greasy doughnut or oily latke and it ‘burns’ for eight days!”

Enjoy an illuminating Chanukah and warm and festive seasonal greetings to all.

Norman

Norman Feiner is Founder and Director of SimplyFone Ltd, providing low-cost telephone services & solutions to business and residential users. Also on Facebook.

photo credit: idovermani via photopin cc
photo credit: CarbonNYC via photopin cc

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  1. I enjoyed reading this just as the sun started going down this Sunday afternoon on the day of the lighting of the second candle. Laughter, light and doughnuts – such a welcome thing in the winter gloom.
    I think it is a lovely tradition putting the Hannuckia by a window so that light from the family shines out for the world to see.
    I just get so confused with the spelling of this festival, but there again I’ve got a husband called Haim/Chaim/ Hymie (meaning ‘Life’ in hebrew) who says his name can’t be spelled in English anyway.

    • LOL Lisa – I was told that (about that particular Hebrew consonant sound being impossible to replicate in English) by another Jewish friend some years ago so I think your husband has a point! So glad you enjoyed reading Norman’s article. Shalom and Happy Chanukah.

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