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Happy Hanukkah

Rich traditions,

joy and inspiration all

bundled up in this season.

And the happy traditions

that Hanukkah brings,

the candles, the dreidel

and the story that are told

are the wonderful memories

and the joys that never grow old.


Wishing you and

those you hold dear a

Blessed Celebration!


Happy Hanukkah




Hanukkah is one of the few Jewish holidays not mentioned in the Bible. The story of how Hanukkah came to be is contained in the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees, which are not part of the Jewish canon of the Hebrew Bible.These books tell the story of the Maccabees, a small band of Jewish fighters who liberated the Land of Israel from the Syrian Greeks who occupied it. Under the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Syrian Greeks sought to impose their Hellenistic culture, which many Jews found attractive. By 167 B.C.E, Antiochus intensified his campaign by defiling the Temple in Jerusalem and banning Jewish practice. The Maccabees — led by the five sons of the priest Mattathias, especially Judah — waged a three-year campaign that culminated in the cleaning and rededication of the Temple.

Since they were unable to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot at its proper time in early autumn, the victorious Maccabees decided that Sukkot should be celebrated once they rededicated the Temple, which they did on the 25th of the month of Kislev in the year 164 B.C.E. Since Sukkot lasts seven days, this became the timeframe adopted for Hanukkah.

Josephus’ Account

While fleeing the Syrian King, Antichus, the first Jews began arriving in Rome as far back as 160 BC; creating one of the oldest Jewish communities in Western Europe. So, with over thirty-thousand Jews calling Italy home, it isn’t surprising that Hanukkah: the festival of lights is celebrated just as passionately as Christmas.

Hanukkah celebrations last for eight days, with the dates being dictated by the Hebrew calendar. This year’s celebrations begin on the 8th of December. Each night a candle is lit on the nine-branched candleholder called the menorah until all eight candles are burning. The shamash; the ninth candle is raised above the eight others, its purpose being as a flame to light the religious candles below. 

On Rome’s via Sacra, just over two-hundred meters from the Coliseum stands the Arch of Titus. Built in AD81, a relief shows a procession following the raid on the Temple of Solomon, and above the heads of the triumphant Romans a menorah is carried aloft.

Today, a twenty-foot menorah is erected in Piazza Barberini, and this becomes the central focus for Rome’s Jewish community, attracting a wealth of spectators each night for the lighting ceremony. For those wanting to avoid the crowds, there is a smaller candelabrum and ceremony at Piazza Bologna: both menorahs are serviced by Rome’s Metro underground services. In Milan the large public menorah is traditionally set in Piazza San Carlo with the hope that its light will reach the hearts of the people and heat the houses. While in Venice, following the lighting of the menorah, the Cannaregio neighborhood is brought to life with music and dancing. Once the home of the world’s oldest Jewish ghetto the five synagogues remain intact and are still used for worship by the local community. The sumptuous gold and red interior of the Levantine Synagogue is a veritable feast for the eyes.

Florence’s past is also steeped in Jewish history and a visit to the Jewish museum on Via dei Giudei (street of the Jews) is highly recommended as is a stroll around Piazza della Repubblica, where the city’s ghetto once stood; continue your walk for a further twelve-minutes and you reach, Tempio Maggiore. Built between 1874 and 1882, this Great Synagogue of Florence is where the city’s Jewish community gather to celebrate and light their Menorah, before the feasting begins.

No festivities are complete without delicious treats and the Jewish communities celebrate with a fried feast, Frittelle de Chanukah  (sweet fried dough fritters) are the climax to all Italian Hanukkah meals; balls of bread dough are stuffed with raisins and flavored with aniseed which, after frying, are drizzled with hot honey. It would be fair to say that the evening air on Hanukkah has the aroma of fresh doughnuts.

We wish our Jewish friends and customers,

Chag Sameach.





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