Hanukkah2020WEBHanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, begins on the 25th of Kislev (Hebrew calendar) and usually falls in late November or in December in the Gregorian calendar. This year it began on Thursday night, Dec. 10. Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem after it was retaken by the Maccabees. Another name for Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights because the holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah (historically a nine-branched oil candelabrum), in addition to traditional foods, games and gifts. The number of candles or lights progresses each night of the holiday, until the final night when there are eight, plus one to light the others, for a total of nine.

Hanukkah customs include eating foods fried in oil, such as latkes (potato pancakes) and jelly doughnuts. Other traditions include playing with the dreidel (a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, hei and shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, "a great miracle happened there") and the giving of Chanukah gelt, gifts of money (or coin-shaped chocolate), to children.   

Thank you for your re-dedication to the children of Alabama. This has been a tough year. May next year be much better. May great miracles happen here during this holiday season and all year long. It is my hope that this holiday season will provide us with inspiration to increase health, peace and goodwill for all in the coming year.