Recently I was invited to a Chanukah Party put on by one of our Therapeutic Foster Parents. It was also a birthday celebration for the youth in their home. As a former Case Manager this young man and his brothers were on my caseload. I got to work with their amazing family for two years. You can imagine my excitement at this invitation! These boys have really touched my heart. Also in attendance were the birthday boy’s 3 brothers and their foster families and current Case Manager.
We were offered traditional cider and other refreshments and spent a lot of time just chatting and catching up. The birthday boy told the story of the Chanukah and the lighting of the candles. As the story goes, about 2000 years ago there was a super mean Greek King, Antiochus IV (Hellenistic Syrians), who was in control of the region. He began oppressing and massacring Jews for their religious beliefs. The Jews (Maccabees) revolted against this mean king. And they won! heir next step was to rededicate their sacred Temple.
According to tradition as recorded in the Talmud at the time of the rededication, there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Greeks. Oil was needed for the Menorah or the Candelabrum in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle!
I have to say birthday boy told the story much better. There were lots of hand gestures and the word “dude” was used a lot.
We lit the candles of the Chanukiah. You can call it a menorah, or a Chanukiah. The Chanukiah came into fashion because the menorah was the 7 branched candelabra that the Romans took out of the temple. Check out the famous sculpture in Arch of Titus in Rome. So Chanukiah becomes the specific name for a Chanukah candelabra.
After lighting the candles and a prayer it was time for Chanukah presents! The youngest gets to open presents first and up to the oldest. One of the brothers had brought two presents for each of his brothers and his brother’s foster parents. As he was handing out his gifts, his Therapeutic Foster Parent told everyone he had used his own money to buy these gifts and had been planning and saving since this summer. When he first arrived it took him several trips carrying large bags filled with presents. He was definitely the Santa Claus of the evening. Each of the boys received age appropriate presents. Then the adults were treated to yo-yo’s with instructions for different tricks. We also got a Dreidel with game instructions. Everyone there received a gift!
There was plenty of traditional Jewish foods; lokshen kugel (noodle pudding or casserole in Yiddish) and potato latkes (fried pancakes), and vegetables.
After eating it was time to celebrate the birthday boy! You can imagine young man Santa Claus also has several presents for his brother’s birthday as well as did others.
I want to sincerely thank the Theraputic Foster Parents who invited me. I was so honored to celebrate this young man’s birthday and the holiday of Chanukah. I had a wonderful time where I got to see the successes of AK Child & Family youth and spend a holiday with them! Thank You!!