Hanukkah centers around giving

Sarah Binder

Why have one day of presents when you can have eight, right?

Not exactly.

Marshall Berg, rabbi emeritus from Beth El Jacob Synagogue in Des Moines, said that giving to charity is much more important than giving to children during Hanukkah.

“In Hebrew, the root of the word love is the same as the word give,” Berg said.

Berg said that in the Jewish tradition, the golden rule is translated as “love your fellow creature as yourself,” which includes animals, plants and all other living things, not just neighbors.

Giving gifts to family members for each day of Hanukkah is a more modern tradition that results from the holiday’s proximity to Christmas.

However, there are still many cherished traditions that date back more than two millennea, to when the Maccabees liberated Israel from the Syrian Greeks.

“Hanukkah reminds us that a few dedicated people can overcome many who try to destroy them,” Berg said.

The main tradition is lighting the candles of the menorah — Hanukkah is called the festival of lights for a reason.

This tradition dates to the famous story of oil that should’ve lasted for one night burning for eight.

This story is also commemorated by eating latke — potato pancakes cooked in olive oil.

Playing dreidel, a game with a four-sided top, is another major tradition of Hanukkah, especially with children.

The symbols on the dreidel translate to “a great miracle happened there.”

“It means God will help you to overcome any of your enemies,” Berg said.