053: Tuesday Quiz: Hanukkah Lights!

HAPPY HANUKKAH! This is the 2nd of 5 Hanukkah stories.
Click here to read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

riends, here’s our holiday dilemma! To mark the start of Hanukkah tonight, should our Tuesday Quiz be tough enough so that our Jewish readers will feel challenged — or should we offer this quiz for our non-Jewish readers, so they will enjoy learning more about their Jewish friends, neighbors and co-workers?
    Well, we’ve opted for the latter course. If you’re Jewish, please know that we’re honoring you by trying to spread the light with today’s quiz.
    TODAY, we’ve got 10 questions, drawing on details from “The Jewish Book of Why,” a popular reference book for more than 25 years, and also Wikipedia’s extensive articles on Jewish customs.
     INTRIGUED by today’s subject? Well, click on the cover of “The Jewish Book of Why,” and you’ll jump to our bookstore where you can pick up a copy. You’ll be looking at the Jewish Library, which we described in Monday’s story. I can tell you that in 25 years at the Detroit Free Press, I always had a handy copy of this quick-reference guidebook on my desk — so it’s a particularly good choice for non-Jews among the more than a dozen books in the recommended Jewish Library.


    1.) Why is the word Hanukkah spelled so many different ways?

    2.) How many candles or oil lamps stand in a common Hanukkah menorah?

    3.) Do Jews stay home from work or school during Hanukkah?

    4.) The story of Hanukkah doesn’t appear in the Bible, but there are books closely related to the observance that appear in the Catholic Bible and the Protestant Apocrypha. What books are these?

    5.) One popular story traditionally told about Hanukkah is that, when the desecrated Temple was recaptured by Jewish forces, only a tiny bit of sacred oil was found. However, this tiny amount of oil miraculously burned for eight days. Among other stories told about Hanukkah’s eight days are:
    A. The original Hanukkah festival actually may have been a harvest festival that the faithful had missed that year, so they celebrated it to mark the Temple’s liberation.
    B. Seven is the number of days in the Creation story and eight, then, would represent the Infinite nature of God. So, Hanukkah’s eight nights remind us of God’s unsearchable grandeur.
    C. Both have been told.

    6.) Can electric lamps be used instead of candles or oil?

    7.) How many branches were there on the ancient Temple menorah that was carried off by the Romans in the year 70 — and that appears today on Israel’s Coat of Arms?

    8.) Why are the Hanukkah candles used on Friday evenings sometimes bigger than those used on other nights?

    9.) Why do Jewish families enjoy foods like potato pancakes and jelly donuts during Hanukkah?

    10.) How is this year’s Hanukkah stamp different — and similar to — previous holiday stamps?

    When you think you’ve got all the answers, CLICK on the link below in the online version of this
quiz, and the ANSWERS will pop up!

    Ready? CLICK for the ANSWERS below …


1.) Because all of the English spellings of the word are transliterations, attempts at approximating the sound of the Hebrew. There are at least a dozen alternate spellings in English. Many place a “Ch” at the beginning of the word in an attempt to evoke a sound like the “ch” in the Scottish word, “Loch.”

    2.) Nine. There are eight candles or lamps for the eight nights of the Festival of Lights, but there is a ninth candle, called the Shamash (“servant”). The Shamash is used to light the other candles.

    3.) No, it is OK to work and attend classes. Hanukkah historically was considered a minor religious festival, although it has taken on more significance in the past century.

    4.) Maccabbees. Catholic Bibles and the Apocrypha contain 1 and 2 Maccabbees. Other ancient Bibles, including those used in the Orthodox Christian world, contain 3 and 4 Maccabbees.

    5.) C. Judaism invites rich reflections on symbols, rituals, stories and customs — always looking for fresh ways to draw spiritual insights from traditions.

    6.) Sure. Most Jews would agree that electric lamps are fine in places where flames would be a bad idea.

    7.) Only seven. The instructions for making this particular menorah appear in the 25th chapter of Exodus, which includes the words: “You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. … You shall make the seven lamps for it.”

    8.) Observant Jewish families would not light candles after the Sabbath begins, but they want to be sure that the Hanukkah candles provide at least a half an hour of light in the darkness. Many common brands of Hanukkah candles are small and burn out in about half an hour. So, often, bigger candles are a Sabbath solution.

    9.) Because they are fried in oil, a reminder of a central symbol in the holiday story.

    10.) The U.S. Postal Service apparently loved their earlier design for a Hanukkah stamp, featuring a colorful dreidel. So, this year’s stamp is virtually identical to earlier versions — except that this year it has been upgraded with a 41-cent designation. (We have reproduced the older and the new stamps below.)


How’d you do?
    Remember — if
you enjoyed this week’s
quiz, you can print it, reprint it or email the entire text it to a friend. We
only ask that you credit the quiz to “David Crumm” and
“readthespirit.com” (If you’re new to ReadTheSpirit, we often run
quizzes on Tuesdays and you can quickly find our past quizzes by
finding the “Categories” area on our Web site and clicking on the
“Tuesday Quiz” category!)

    Tell us what you think. Click Here to email me, David Crumm, or leave a Comment for other readers on our site.

    AND: COME BACK TOMORROW for a remarkable Conversation With Dinah Berland about recovering a beloved Jewish prayer book from the shadows of history.

(Images of stamps are © 2007 USPS. All Rights Reserved.)

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