What’s Up With the Dreidel?

chanukah-dreidelHistory reveals that there was a time when the Syrians forbid study of the Torah. Those Jewish People who were serious about continuing to study the Hebrew Scriptures despite their difficult circumstances studied in secret. They kept spinning tops called dreidels handy. This way if Jews were found studying, they could quickly pretend that had only been playing.

Outside of Israel, a dreidel contains the Hebrew letters “nun,” “gimel,” “hay,” and “shin” on  its four sides. These letters stand for “Nes gadol haya sham,” which means, “A great miracle happened there,” referring to Israel.

The letters also stand for the gifts you get depending on which letter lands face up after the dreidel has been spun. To play the dreidel game, each player starts with the same amount of tokens, typically chocolate coins called gelt. Each player puts one token in the pot. Players take turns spinning the dreidel. Then each player follows the directions of what to do next depending on what Hebrew letter lands face up:

Nun = “nisht,” which means you don’t do anything

Gimel = “gants,” which means take the whole pot of chocolate coins, or gelt

Hay = “halb,” which means to take half the chocolate coins

Shin = “shtel,” which means you have to add chocolate coins to the pot

The game ends when a single player wins all the chocolate coins.

Happy Chanukah!

Jewish Voice Ministries International


Why I Celebrate Chanukah

iStock_000007213707LargeBy Jack Zimmerman,
Staff Evangelist for Jewish Voice

Ah, the aroma of potato pancakes frying in oil. This can mean only one thing—Chanukah has again arrived!

It’s that special time of year when we Jews celebrate the fact that when the Second Temple was desecrated around 164 B.C. by Antiochus and his troops, there was only enough oil to last for one day in the lampstand at the re-dedication ceremony. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, and—voila!—there you go . . . instant Jewish holiday!

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York (the other Holy Land), I have memories of lighting another candle each night on the traditional Chanukah menorah. One day, however, the Zimmerman family took note that electricity had indeed been discovered, and that small screw-in bulbs rather than candles were much easier to use and didn’t drip like the candles did.

One year at Chanukah, we had a Chanukah bush. This is basically the Jewish version of a Christmas tree. On steroids.

Our response to the traditional Douglas fir at Christmas was a multi-colored metallic frilled bush, which could also be used to give you better reception on your television set, long after the holiday had ended and long before the advent of cable. (more…)

Chanukah Recipes from Jewish Voice

14603Celebrate Chanukah by trying these fantastic holiday recipes for latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts):


Jewish Voice Ministries International

Chanukah: The Rekindling of Righteousness

GIFTWhat if Chanukah is more than just candles and presents? What if it isn’t really the memorial of a miracle? What if the real Chanukah story is actually a rallying cry for the Jewish People, and a graphic exhortation to all who have dedicated their lives to serve the Messiah Yeshua?

Today, the occasional, passing homage to the real story of Chanukah is too often lost in the buzz of wintertime festivities. As a result, what many do not remember about Chanukah is its unsettling, unsanitized, and all-too-important origins.

The real story of Chanukah is a story of turmoil and upheaval for the nation of Israel. It is a story about the attempted assimilation of the Jewish People, and the anti-Semitic spirit set against them. It is a story of sin and corruption; oppression and persecution; liberty and—ultimately—victory.

The real story of Chanukah begins approximately 200 years before Yeshua, with the latest of Israel’s foreign dictators, Antiochus Epiphanes, slaughtering many of the people of Israel, plundering the city of Jerusalem, and taking women, children, and livestock captive. He then enforced the widespread adoption of his very own one-world religion that could seal the fate not only of Israel, but of all the surrounding nations.

With so many Jews having already willingly subjected themselves to Antiochus’ rule, the next step in securing Israeli acceptance of his religion was to make the keeping of Torah and the continuation of the Temple service crimes against the state. By the abolition or abrogation of anything related to the Torah and the Temple service, everything that defined and distinguished Israel from the nations would be eliminated. The king’s scheme was ingenious, the goal astonishingly self-evident: Cause the Jews to “forget” who they are, and one can rule the world. (more…)

Festival of Lights: The Chanukiah

2-tone ChanukiahThe lighting of the chanukiah is the most important Chanukah tradition. The chanukiah, which  is a candlestand with nine branches, contains eight candles of the same height, one for each day of Chanukah, with a taller one in the middle called the shamash (“servant”), which is used to light the others. Each evening of Chanukah, one more candle is lit, with a special blessing.

The chanukiah symbolizes the burning light in the Temple and marks the eight days of the Chanukah festival. It also represents the light of freedom won by the Maccabees for the Jewish People.

Jewish Voice Ministries International

Purchase the chanukiah you see in the photo to the left along with a Chanukah minibook directly from Jewish Voice!

Happy Chanukah!

HappyChanukahFind Messianic Jewish resources on the Jewish holiday of Chanukah! Read more about the history of Chanukah, get a free Chanukah download, send an e-card, upload desktop wallpaper and more.


Jewish Voice Ministries International

Chanukah: Light Conquers the Darkness

Candles and menorahBeginning at sundown on December 8, the Jewish holiday of Chanukah lasts for eight days and  nights during the month of Kislev.

Chanukah, also known as The Festival of Lights, is a time when the Jewish People have for centuries commemorated the rededication of the Second Temple around 165 B.C.

King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Solomon’s Temple when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem in 587 B.C. After their 70 years of captivity, the Jews returned to Jerusalem and built the Second Temple, which was dedicated in 517 B.C.

That Second Temple was desecrated by King Antiochus from Syria, who not only ordered a halt to all Jewish traditions, but also burned all the Torahs he could find and even went as far as sacrificing pigs in the Temple!

A few years later, a group of Jewish warriors, the Maccabees, rose up in revolt and cleansed the Temple of all of the recent horrors.

According to the Talmud, as the rededication of The Temple started, a special, blended oil was needed to put into the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night, every night. But they could only find one small jug of the oil that had remained uncontaminated because it was still sealed. The problem was that the jug only contained enough oil for the menorah to stay alight for one day.

But when it was lit, miraculously it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil!

You can imagine the celebration as once again the Temple was restored and put back into use. Ever since, the Jewish People have had an eight-day festival to commemorate that miracle.

Visit our Chanukah section on our website.

Jewish Voice Ministries International