Happy Hannukah!

As the calendar year winds down, and long hot days start to appear, it’s time to celebrate Hannukah, and remember the story of the oil that burnt enough for 8 days.

1. Sufganiyot. Who doesn’t like a nice jam filled doughnut? Plenty of recipes for this delicious snack can be found online, but we can go one better; The World of Jewish Deserts by Gil Marks. Here not only can you find a recipe for sufganiyot along with a short potted history of this treat, but also 400 other delectable desert recipes collected from around the Jewish world.

2. Driedel. Soon you’ll have that driedel song on repeat like a broken record. Driedel, driedel, driedel! It’s made out of clay right? We are lucky in Auckland to have access to a lot of clay. Good old Waitemata Clay, that you can find all over North Shore, and Eastern bays, including underneath the Library, here in Meadowbank. So have a look at this wonderful 1859 geological map of Auckland, drawn by Hotschetter and published in 1864, and see where the clay is distributed in Auckland.

If you are up to the challenge, how about making some driedels from the clay you can find in your neighbourhood? Send me the photos!

3. Hannukiah. The reason for the season. And a big hannukiah will be the focus of a great event on Sunday 17th December; Hannukah in the Park 2017. Come along and support your community!

Community Notice:
The Auckland organising committee are looking for people to help set up and break down for Hannukah in the Park. Please consider helping where you can. Contact Idit for more information.

Wellington’s event is Sunday Dec 17th, at 11am, Botanic Gardens Soundshell.

Auckland’s event is Sunday Dec 17th, 5pm at Albert Park Bandstand, Auckland Central.

4. Latkes. We Kiwi’s love our potatoes. They go into kosher Bluebird chips, and are a part of that classic takeaways – Fish and Chips. Maori use it to make Rewena, and we make latkes, stacks of them during Hannukah. What’s your favourite topping?

5. Children love Hannukah, and with good reason. Gelt, sufganiyot, and latkes, plus lighting candles at night! What’s not to like?

Some years ago, when the community was smaller, Hannukah was a little different – seen as a counterpoint to the dominant Christmas holiday. Strategies varied for resolving the tension between the two festivals. “One [child] who lived in Invercargill during the fifties…recalled that her strategy was simply to pretend that she had Christmas and received presents like everybody else….”… Just before the first day of school I used to make up the Christmas presents that I had got because everybody talked about the …presents on the first day of school.”

That was from this book, which offers a fascinating glimpse of Jewish life in NZ during the period 1930s through to 1990s, and offers some insight about how the community dealt with different aspects of Jewish life.

6. Candles. This year the Library is going to try making some candles for our Hanukiah out of beeswax. While there isn’t any halachic rule on what a candle must be made from, I think the underlying rule is to make the candles from what is at hand, just as the original candles were made from left over temple oil. So beeswax it is. Cross fingers!

7. The Hanukiah has a rich design history. At all times and all places, Hanukiah were made from a variety of materials, and a variety of styles. It is a potent symbol as well, of Jewishness.

A Hannukiah at the bottom of this memorial dated to Roman times indicates that the person was Jewish. This memorial tablet is just one of 22 objects from across 4000 years of Jewish history ranging from, well, memorials to sausage sellers, through to rings, and banknotes. Come take a dip into this fascinating book!

The hannukiah is such a powerful symbol that we have it outside the Library, letting people know that we are a Jewish Library, serving you, the Jewish (and wider) community.

8. Gelt. Kids will be ever so pleased to get some gelt, and parents/guardians will wonder when the sugar rush dies out. But how about combining gelt with a book? Grab this book and read it with your child/children, and promise them some gelt for each poem read! There’s eight stories/poems, each dealing with the resilient spirit of Jews in overcoming adversity, echoing how the hannukiah candles banish the dark with their light.

Finally, summer hours. We will be closed from December 22nd to January 22nd. Shabbat Services will continue as normal. I will be monitoring email and Facebook for any requests over that time.

So that’s a wrap for this calendar year. Have a wonderful summer!