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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You May Be In A Rush, But God Isn't

It's okay to be still.


In the world we live in today it seems like being still isn't a thing. Everyone is always on go with slam packed schedules and planners. You go from one thing to the next all day, all week even with little to no break in between all the chaos. We live in a time where if your life isn't like this if you're not constantly doing something from sun up to sun down then you're lazy, unambitious, and not going to make anything of yourself. Okay, I could be slightly over-exaggerating, but people seriously look down on others when they don't fit into the hustle and bustle scheme of life.

It might seem like you always need to be on the go and getting from one thing to the next, but it's okay to take breaks, it's okay to take time to be still. In fact, many times in the Bible God tells us, "be still." In Psalm 46:10 specifically, we're told that God says this, "Be still, and know that I am God." This is short and sweet, but it is a very powerful command that requires trust and a heart for the Lord.

It is so easy to caught up in family and home life situations and financial situations and work or school situations that can cause an unbelievable amount of stress. When you're feeling stressed, exhausted and overworked that's the perfect time for you to be still. Sit in God's presence and remember who He says He is and know that He is exactly that. Bring all that stress and that exhaustion and that worry and frustration and lay it all down in front of Him and be still. Let him carry your burdens like He says He will do for you, his child. It takes trust to just stop and abandon the norm of being a go-getter but the peace of mind and heart that only the Lord can provide is unlike anything in this world and entirely worth it.

When you are always on the go it's so easy to get in a rush because you become so eager to check everything off of your to-do list. Now, I know you just HAVE to get everything done. Don't rush though. Sometimes being still looks like just taking a step back and being completely present in your current moment. Be fully there. Don't constantly be thinking about what's next or what you've missed already. Be still and know that God has gone before you in each and every day. Be still and know that God will fulfill all of his promises to you, even if your to-do list doesn't get completed. Be still and know that there is nothing you can do to sabotage the plan He has set for you.

It's okay to be a busy person. It's okay to get everything on your long to-do list done. It's okay to have late nights and early mornings. It is. But, don't let that consume you. Don't let that be who you are. Be still in God's presence every day, this is our temporary home after all our eternal home is with Him. So trust His plan for you and his timing, know who He says He is, and trust that He will always be that.

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