Frohes Chanukka! — German Hanukkah vocabulary

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Frohes Chanukka! — German Hanukkah vocabulary

Saturday marked the start of Hanukkah, an annual Jewish festival commemorating the building of the second temple in Jerusalem.

In today’s post we’ll look at some common and important German Hanukkah vocabulary.

The first question we need to ask ourselves is what’s the German word for Hanukkah? From the Hebrew ???????? [xan??ka?] we get Chanukka and Hanukkah depending on how strong you make the back of your throat “ch” sound which is very common in Swiss-German and words like auch. In English you’ll often hear Hanukkah be referred to as the festival of lights and in German we also call it das Lichterfest.

What is Hanukkah — Was ist Chanukka?

Hanukkah (Chanukka) is an eight-day Jewish holiday (jüdisches Fest) commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) (der zweite Tempel) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt (der Makkabäeraufstand) of the 2nd century BCE. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev (Kislew) according to the Hebrew calendar (der hebräische Kalender), which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar (der gregorianische Kalender).

The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum (der Armleuchter), the nine-branched Menorah (die Menora) or Hanukiah (die Chanukkia / der Chanukkaleuchter), one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The typical Menorah consists of eight branches with an additional raised branch. The extra light is called a shamash (Hebrew: ???, “attendant” (der Diener)) and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest. The purpose of the shamash is to have a light available for use, as using the Hanukkah lights themselves is forbidden. This is done after the berakhot (blessing (der Segen)) has been said.

The Origin — Der Ursprung

When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and services stopped, Judaism (das Judentum) was outlawed (verboten). In 167 BCE Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus (der Zeus-Altar) erected in the Temple. He banned circumcision (die Beschneidung) and ordered pigs to be sacrificed (opfern) at the altar of the temple. Antiochus’s actions provoked a large-scale revolt (der Aufstand). Mattityahu, a Jewish priest (der Priester), and his five sons Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus. Judah became known as Yehuda HaMakabi (“Judah the Hammer”). By 166 BCE Mattathias had died (sterben), and Judah took his place as leader. By 165 BCE the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy (die Monarchie) was successful (erfolgreich). The Temple was liberated (befreien) and rededicated (wiedereinweihen). The festival of Hanukkah was instituted to celebrate this event. Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed (reinigen), a new altar to be built (errichten) in place of the polluted (verseuchen) one and new holy vessels (die Gefässe) to be made. According to the Talmud, olive oil was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night. The story goes that there was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight-day festival was declared by the Jewish sages (die Weisen) to commemorate (gedenken) this miracle (das Wunder).

Hanukkah Traditions — Chanukka-Bräuche

Hanukkah is primarily a household celebration (häusliches Fest). In the evenings of Hanukkah family and friends come together (versammeln sich) to celebrate. Community celebrations (die Gemeindefeiern) are also quite popular. Children get presents (die Geschenke) and sweets (die Süssigkeiten). Traditionally foods cooked in oil (das Öl) are eaten such as??????? ? (Sufganiyyot (der Krapfen / der Berliner Pfannkuchen) and Latkes (der Kartoffelpuffer) served with apple sauce (das Apfelmus).

After the candles (die Kerzen) have been lit (anzünden) traditional Hanukkah songs (die Chanukkalieder) like the Ma’oz Tzur (Maos Zur) are sung (singen). Stories (die Geschichten) are also told (erzählen) and games played (Spiele spielen). During Hanukkah children (die Kinder) are also given (schenken) coins (die Münzen) and encouraged (ermutigen) to donate (spenden) a portion of it to charitable causes (wohltätige Zwecke) or in Hebrew ???? Tzedakah (Tzedaqa).

Dreidel Dreidel — das Spiel mit dem Dreidel

A traditional game is with the dreidel (der Dreidel) is also popular. A Hebrew character is written on each of the four sides of the Dreidel ? (Nun), ? (Gimel), ? (Hei), ? (Shin) which stands for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham — A great miracle happened there. — Ein grosses Wunder geschah dort. In Israel the dreidel reads ? (Pei), (Gimel), ? (Hei), ? (Shin) for Nes Gadol Hayah Poh — A great miracle happened here — Ein grosses Wunder geschah hier. The game (das Spiel) is traditionally played with sweets or coins (die Münze / die Münzen). For the purpose of the game the letters are used as abbreviations for the Yiddish (jiddisch) words:

  • Nun (?) = nisht = nicht — the spinner doesn’t get anything, but also doesn’t lose anything. (Man gewinnt nicht, verliert aber auch nichts.)
  • Gimel (?) = gants = ganz — the spinner wins everything in the pot and every player places one or two pieces back into the pot. (Man gewinnt den gesamten Kasseninhalt, danach muss jeder Spieler wieder ein (zwei) Stück(e) in den Pot legen.)
  • He (?) = halb = halb — the spinner wins half of what is in the pot. If there is only one piece in the pot, it is often required that the other players each put in one or two pieces. (Man gewinnt die Hälfte der Kasse (aufgerundet). Manchmal wird verlangt, dass wenn nur ein Stück verbleibt, jeder zwei (eines) einlegen muss.)
  • Schin (?) = shtel = stellen — the spinner has to place one or two pieces into the pot. If the player has no more pieces they are out of the game. (Man muss ein (zwei) Stück(e) in die Kasse legen (einstellen). Wer nichts mehr in die Kasse legen kann, scheidet aus.)

The order in which the candles are lit — Die Reihenfolge, in der die Kerzen angezündet werden

The Hanukiah has to be visible and the lights cannot be used for any other purpose (der Zweck). The Hanukiah is generally displayed by the entrance to the house (der Hauseingang) across from the Mezuzah (die Mesusa) — a piece of parchment with verses from the Torah (die Thora). The candles are placed in the Hanukiah from right to left (rechts nach links), like how the Hebrew language is read, but lit from right to left (rechts nach links). On the first night the following prayer is recited when the first candle is lit:

  • Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.
    • Blessed are You, O Lord Our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.
    • Gelobt seist du, Ewiger, unser Gott, König der Welt, der du uns geheiligt durch deine Gebote und uns befohlen, das Chanukkalicht anzuzünden.
  • Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, she’asah nisim l’avoteinu, b’yamim haheim bazman hazeh.
    • Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who made miracles for our forefathers in those days at this time.
    • Gelobt seist du, Ewiger, unser Gott, König der Welt, der du Wunder erwiesen unseren Vätern in jenen Tagen zu dieser Zeit.
  • Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, shehekheyanu, v’kiyamanu vehegianu lazman hazeh.
    • Blessed are You, O Lord Our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season.
    • Gelobt seist du, Ewiger, unser Gott, König der Welt, der du uns hast Leben und Erhaltung gegeben und uns hast diese Zeit erleben lassen.

On the other days the third verse is not said before the candles are lit. The candles are lit after sunset (der Sonnenuntergang) except on Friday (Freitag) because it falls on the Sabbath (der Sabbat) in which case the candles are lit before the Sabbath candles (die Sabbatlichter).

I hope that this post has given you some valuable German Hanukkah vocabulary.

Frohes Chanukka!

Exercise:

Complete this text with vocabulary with the vocabulary you learned above:

___________ (?????, „Weihung, Einweihung“ auch bekannt als ___________) ist ein acht Tage dauerndes, jährlich gefeiertes ___________ ___________ zum Gedenken an die Wiedereinweihung des ___________ ___________  in Jerusalem im Jahr 164 v. Chr. Es beginnt jeweils am 25. Tag des Monats ___________ (November/Dezember).

Chanukka ist primär ein ___________ ___________. An den Chanukka-Abenden ___________ sich die Familien mit Freunden zu ausgelassenen Festen. ___________ sind üblich, die Kinder bekommen ___________ und ___________. Gegessen werden vor allem in ___________ gebackene Speisen wie ___________ (hebr. ???????? Sufganiyyot) oder Latkes (___________) mit Apfelmus und Sahne und weitere Spezialitäten der jüdischen Küche. Nach dem Anzünden der Lichter werden ___________ ___________ und weitere ___________ gesungen. Ursprünglich zündete man die Lichter nur in den Häusern an, später auch in den Synagogen. Literarische Erwähnung findet das Fest unter anderem bei Heinrich Heine. In seiner Denkschrift für Ludwig Börne schildert Heine einen Spaziergang der beiden Schriftsteller jüdischer Herkunft durch die winterliche Frankfurter Judengasse.

The German Hanukkah Song

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Flashcards:

Practice your new vocabulary with these flashcards!

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