5 Common Misconceptions About Modern-Day Hanukkah

5 Common Misconceptions About Modern-Day Hanukkah

Not all Hanukkah traditions are practiced by nonreligious Jewish people.

As an ethnically Jewish person, I commonly am asked about Jewish Holidays like Hanukkah, for example. I may be ETHNICALLY Jewish, but I am currently unsure of my beliefs. Knowing this, growing up, my parents took my sister and me to Sunday Hebrew school right near our house. There, we were given the choice to learn about the culture we were born into and decide for ourselves whether we want to follow it. We were taught about the holidays and certain prayers. I even remember making a photo album where we teach people how to celebrate other Jewish Holidays.

Here are some common misconceptions about modern-day Hanukkah:

1. You get 8 days of presents.

As a nonreligious Jewish person, whenever I see a family member during this 8-day holiday, we get a present that day. We do NOT get 8 days of presents, we never have.

2. You get money every day.

You get “gelt” (money) possibly one or some of the days, but NOT ALL.

3. You light the candles every day.

Ideally, yes. But nonreligious people sometimes skip days.

4. You recite prayers each day of the holiday.

Again, ideally, yes. Not in nontraditional families.

5. You play with dreidels.

Maybe when you are a kid or have kids, but not typically when you get older.

Hanukkah is a holiday where we celebrate the Jews’ escape from the power of a higher culture, the Maccabees. They made light last for eight days with a little oil, which is why traditionally we eat oily food such as potato pancakes (latkes) and we (are supposed to) light the menorah every day for 8 days. Most Jewish holidays tend to celebrate the Jews’ escape from harsh rule. They were oppressed over the years, although Christianity originated from Judaism. It is an older culture and people who are nontraditional Jews have their own way of celebrating; it is not wrong just because it doesn’t follow “every rule.” There is no need to offend some people who are religiously immersed in the Jewish holidays and traditions. The misconceptions though, have to be put out there so people understand the difference when someone says they are not religious.

Religion is a touchy topic for many people. We always go through situations where we end up questioning our faith. But the issue is, nothing is consistent, especially growing up, about your beliefs. Ideally, you would want your children and even yourself to believe in something out there, outside of this world. It would be great to entrust your entire life to a religion, but some people, like me, can’t just submit to something they don’t know a lot about. I’m happy that my parents never forced religion on my sister and me.

However, it is important to have faith in something, even if you don’t have faith in religion. To keep you going, you must believe in a future for yourself and have goals. Believe that you will achieve all of your dreams. You have to believe sometimes that things happen for a reason. But let your holiday be just that- a holy day. Sometimes getting together for any reason with your family brings you closer to who you are on the inside. Bonding with family is an important part of your faith- having unity. It is important to have faith, and faith that brings you closer to someone else is a faith that cannot be pushed to the side.

Cover Image Credit: Robert Zunikoff / Unsplash

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.

Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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When You Decide To Question Ingrained Beliefs

As a human being and being the person I am, I'm surprised I didn't second guess it earlier.


I already know my phone is going to be filled with notifications and missed calls once my aunt sees this. Sorry, Cynthia!

I always thought I would be submerged in my religion and my beliefs. As a kid, I was raised in a Christian household where God was who we prayed to and believed would answer our prayers.

So as a kid, I followed what the adults would tell me. I believed in something that I've never seen. I was in the children's choir and the I was on the praise team. I bowed my head during prayer and I prayed to God because I wanted to see if he would actually answer.

The older I got the more I learned that there were people out there who had different beliefs, who worshipped a different God or gods, and those who didn't believe in religion at all.

At first, I questioned the individuals who didn't believe in God why. I did a little research about those who had a different God or believed in multiple gods. I couldn't understand why they didn't believe in the same being as I did.

In school, I learned about the different religions and what they were called and some of their history. So I kept believing even though after a while, my parents stopped taking us to church or at least didn't force me to go.

Once they started teaching you more and more about God along with all of the trouble going on in the world, you begin to question why God allowed those events and troubles to continue on. It starts that doubt sitting in the back of your head as to whether or not God truly exists.

So when my parents died, some would understand why I questioned him a bit more. It's weird not having parents. Not having a secure place to go back to and know that the ones who took care of you are still there to provide and serve as a place of home.

Fast forward towards the summer after high school graduation and my best friend and I are discussing Christianity and God and everything under the sun. We're sort of on the same page about being a Christian. She kind of brushes it off more than I but we still question religion a lot.

I say that I am a Christian and that I believe in God and his son Jesus. I haven't read the Bible (I can't get past the first couple of pages in Genesis). Yet I still pray whenever things get really rough and there are some behaviors I find myself acting out that I have been taught to do. I listen to some gospel music.

So I could place myself in that in-between category of being a believer. I question whether or not I should listen to the bible because in essence it was written by man and yet we are told not to trust the man. They also tell us that God told this man what to write and yet how do I know that some of the things in the Bible wasn't based upon this man's point of view. I sometimes question God himself because of the fact that I haven't seen him and because I myself haven't experienced what others have when they say they know God is real. So am I wrong for questioning what was forced upon me as a child? Would I still be a Christian if I was given the chance to explore other religions or would I be a nonbeliever?

Also, the Bible supports the fact that women are inferior to men. When I gave the scenario of who gets fed first, your husband or your children, I got received different answers. So when I asked my aunt, she brought up the fact that the Bible says that your spouse comes before your children and if one were to go based off that then the husband would get fed first.

I question my religion and the Bible mainly based upon what I've seen and experienced and I still use it time to time. Christians are the first ones to judge and say one sin is bigger than the other so that one sin is going to send that person straight to hell. That honestly makes no sense and then religion is intermingled with the government (which it's not supposed to be) which makes creating and passing certain laws extra difficult.

To those questioning, keep questioning. While I'm not the best person to listen to about it, questioning does result in answers and can aid in figuring out what to believe.

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