Posted by: ppernick | December 27, 2006

Hannukah Storm of 2006 – some history

Contacted a coworker the Monday of the power outage to request she feed my fish.  She commented, that if the outage had happened on Christmas (or any other federally recognized holiday for that matter) the storm would have been labelled as “Christmas Storm of 2006”.  Alas, it hit the night before Hannukah – and who would even consider labelling a massive power outage storm after the Festival of Lights.  I mentioned this to a few friends and noticed they were now referring to the storm as The Hannukah Storm of 2006 on their blogs.  Maybe this will catch on.  Hah! I’m not nearly that influential.

I did find the timing of the power outage and projected recovery timeline to be quite…ironic.  There was even a small part of me that wanted the power to return an hour after sundown on Saturday, just as Hannukah was coming to an end.

For those who don’t necessarily know the story of Hannukah: 

King Antiochus comes to power and begins oppressing the Jews – requiring religious assimilation by way of temple desecration, idol worship and death.  A desire for revolt began to grow and the Maccabee family led the forces to defeat the government.  Following the victory, steps were taken to rebuild and rededicate the temple.  A tradition of the rededication ceremony is the lighting of the N’er Tamid (eternal flame) in the temple.  Only enough oil to last one day could be found, but miraculously it burned for eight – enough time to prepare a fresh supply.

I did manage to learn a little something while looking for a basis of my little summary.  One tradition of this holiday is the dreidel game – a gambling game played with a little square top.  As a means to continue to study Torah under Anthiochus’ rule, Jews would play gambling games with a top to conceal their activity. 

Each side of the dreidel displays a hebrew letter – Nun, Gimmel, Hay, Shin.  Turns out these letters have more than one meaning: 

Meaning 1 (the meaning you learn as a baby): these letters stand for the phrase “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham”.  “A great miracle happened there”.

Meaning 2 (new to me): they also stand for yiddish words Nit (nothing), Gantz (all), Halb (half) and Shtell (put).  This corresponds with the game rules – do nothing, get all of the goodies in the pot, get half the goodies in the pot, put goodies into the pot.

Learn something new everyday…  though Israeli dreidels have a Peh instead of a Shin for “Nes Gadol Hayah Po – A great miracle happened here.”  Wonder if there’s a yiddish word beginning with Peh that means ‘add to’…

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