Hanukkah – Songs & Dance for The Festival of Lights, 2023.

In 2023, Hanukkah begins at sundown on Thu.  Dec. 7th. through Fri. Dec. 15th.

Hanukkah is a celebration of freedom of religion, freedom from oppression. It is the story of a few brave men  “The Maccabees” that confronted the powerful Seleucid army of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and won!

The story of Hanukkah  happened around 200 BCE in Jerusalem at a time when Israel was part of the Persian empire. Antiochus IV Epiphanes issued a decree forbidding the practice of Jewish religion. A Jewish priest named Mattathias refused to offer sacrifice to the Greek gods and killed a jew who stepped out to do the offering in his place. That started the revolt. Judah Maccabees led an army of Jewish dissidents in guerrilla warfare and to victory over the Seleucid dynasty.  the name Maccabees is the Aramaic word for “hammer”, because they “strike hammer blows against their enemies. When Judah Maccabees restored the temple, there was just enough oil for the sacred lamp to last one day, and miraculously it lasted for 8 days, enough time to make more. That is why on Hannukkah we eat fried foods!

Songs to sing during Hannukkah - Festival of Lights

Hora Dance History

The word Hora refers to “circle dances” for community festivals and weddings in the Balkans, Turkey and Israel. During weddings the bride and groom are raised on chairs in the middle of the circle.

Did you Know: Before the revolt of the Macabees against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Persian ruler; Israel was part of the Persian empire which Alexander the Great had conquered and rued allowing freedom of religion of all his subjects. After his death, his Greek cultural influence remained woven into the culture of the states he had conquered.  Circle dances like “The Hora” are part of that influence.

Hava Nagila Dance


Hava nagila

Hava nagila

Hava nagila ve-nismeḥa

Hava neranenah

Hava neranenah

Hava neranenah ve-nismeḥa


Uru, uru aḥim!

Uru aḥim be-lev sameaḥ

Uru aḥim, uru aḥim!

Be-lev sameaḥ

English Translation

Let’s rejoice

Let’s rejoice

Let’s rejoice and be happy

Let’s sing

Let’s sing

Let’s sing and be happy


Awake, awake, my brothers!

Awake my brothers with a happy heart

Awake, my brothers, awake, my brothers!


With a happy heart


Books you might like to read about Hanukkah!

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