What's Chanukah?

What's Chanukah?

How do you celebrate it? How do you pronounce it?

This year, the Jewish holiday of Chanukah starts on the evening of December 6. And yes, I’m talking about the holiday you might have seen spelled like “Hanukkah” or some other way entirely. It’s a Hebrew word (meaning “dedication”), and not one that’s easily written in English. The first letter of חֲנֻכָּה – the letter on the far right – has a sound that’s kind of like saying H when your throat’s full of phlegm. Say it with me: Chhhhanukah!

Chanukah’s a bit of an oddball holiday. Unlike other Jewish holidays, it doesn’t have biblical origins. At no point in the Torah does God tell us to celebrate Chanukah, like God does for other holidays. Sometimes I joke that we just looked around, noticed that everyone else seemed to be getting presents this time of year, and decided to join the fun. But to be honest, I really like Chanukah. It has a nice story and fun traditions, and who doesn’t like the sound of an eight day long holiday?

The story of Chanukah is the story of the Maccabees. Long ago, there was a temple in Jerusalem, where Jewish priests practiced their religious rituals. But a Greek army, led by Antiochus IV, invaded Jerusalem. Antiochus banned the practice of Judaism and had his army loot Jerusalem and desecrate the temple. Mattathias Maccabee, a Jewish priest, and his sons led a rebellion against Antiochus, and after several years finally drove out their oppressors, despite the might of the Greek army -- a miracle indeed. The Maccabees set about cleaning the temple and rededicating it to God, which involved lighting a certain lamp that was never supposed to be allowed to go out. There was only enough oil for the lamp to burn for one day, and it would take a week to make more. But another miracle occurred, and the oil burned for eight days!

Now that I’m finally out of the university dorms and no longer forbidden to use fire indoors, I’ll be able to light my own lamp this Chanukah, called a menorah. A menorah is a candleholder with nine branches: one for each night, and one for the shamash, the “helper” candle. Every night of Chanukah, we add another candle, sing a special prayer, and use the shamash to light the other candles. To further celebrate the miracle of the oil, we make foods fried in oil, primarily a kind of potato pancake called a latke and jelly donuts called sufganiyot. Sweet potato latkes are my favorite; they go great with applesauce!

I also brought another Chanukah tradition with me this year: a couple dreidels! Dreidels are little tops with letters on them, used to play a fun little game. To play, you spin the dreidel, and depending on what letter is facing upwards when the dreidel falls down, you get to take some gelt -- chocolate coins -- as a prize. The letters stand for a phrase that translates to “a great miracle happened there”, but more importantly to the game, they stand for how much gelt you’ll get: the whole pot (ג), half of the pot (ה), none of the pot (נ), or -- tragically -- you have to give one of your gelt back to the pot (ש)! It doesn’t take much skill or thought, sure, but it’s almost finals week. I’m not about to complain about an excuse to spend some time just having fun and not thinking too hard!

!חַג שָׂמֵח (Happy Holidays!)

Cover Image Credit: Classroom Clipart

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved

To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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The Truth About Politics In Religion And How It Affects Our Relationship With God

They don't have to be mutually exclusive.


It's evident that religion can and has been used in politics from the values of voters and leaders. However, to use your religion or your relationship with God for making political decisions doesn't share the same meaning.

I've always loved finding all the best facts and research for argumentative work but I couldn't pursue that approach for this topic. Why? Because I've experienced the pattern in my relationship with God of how God defies logic.

God can't be contained to a definition or explanation. I liked the way I've heard one leader express that, "If you hear someone trying to explain to God as if he knows then he's a fool before he starts talking". That's a paradox within itself.

I've learned more recently to identify that the two sides of the paradox that you might wrestle with in understanding God are both true. That, yes, His hands are big and He knows exactly what to do to make you surrender but you'll also find no greater love than with Him because He has the biggest heart and knows what you need better than you do.

I think that accepting this paradox will differentiate between those that view politics religiously versus those that view it from 'what is God trying to do here'? The one that focuses on seeking 'what is God trying to do here?' would represent those with a relationship with God. This doesn't mean that referencing the laws of God exempts you from having a relationship but the love of God is the strength that sustains the relationship over the law. This is also a bit of a paradox because they're both important in Christianity.

There's the difference from seeing God as one-sided which is very prideful, limiting and incorrect compared to recognizing that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

I believe that what we believe and how we see God will bring limitations or provision on how we can be used in God's plan for His kingdom on earth when it comes to the way the world is run.

God, our relationship with God and the law of God all have to be considered in the things we do as Christians.

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