Jewish Holidays are either later or early. We are never on time." – Comedian Freddie from “Catskills on Broadway.”

Here is some fascinating Hanukkah material to share while spinning the dreidel.


Ah! What child (OK, parent) doesn’t delight in those gilded wrapped chocolate coins, shining through netted little bags? The custom of giving coins on Hanukkah developed in Eastern Europe, probably in the seventeenth century. But real coins were given by children to teachers at Cheder and the poor. The eight presents, one for each night of the holiday, is a recent tradition created by parents in the Diaspora, to prevent Jewish children from feeling left out during the Christmas holiday.


1951: As a “thanks” for U.S. support for the State of Israel, first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion presented President Harry Truman with a bronze Menorah.

1979: President Jimmy Carter was part of the first public lighting of the National Menorah which was held across the White House lawn.

1989: A menorah was displayed in the White House by President George H.W. Bush.

1993: School children were invited into the Oval Office by President Bill Clinton for a Hanukkah ceremony.

2001: President George W. Bush held an official Hanukkah reception in the White House. The candle-lighting ceremony has since become an annual tradition attended by Jewish leaders from around the country.

2008: President Bush used the bronze menorah for the ceremony, with a grandson of Ben-Gurion and a grandson of Truman lighting the candles.

2014: The White House commissioned a menorah created by students at the Max Rayne School in Israel that had been attacked by extremists. Two students were invited to join President Barack Obama along with 500 other guests at the celebration. In his speech the President said these "students teach us an important lesson for this time in our history. The light of hope must outlast the fires of hate. That’s what the Hanukkah story teaches us. It’s what our young people can teach us— that one act of faith can make a miracle, that love is stronger than hate, that peace can triumph over conflict.”


In 1996 the United States Postal Service (USPS) issued a 32 cent Hanukkah “Menorah”

stamp jointly with Israel. The stamp was reissued for eight years. In 2004, the stamp took on a dreidel design for the next four years. In 2009 a Hanukkah stamp was issued with a design featuring a photograph of a lit menorah.

Miriam is on vacation in Israel and decided to go to the local post office to buy stamps for her Hanukkah cards.

I’d like please, 100 Hanukkah stamps,” she told the clerk.

Not a problem. So, what denominations?” he asked.

Oy vey!” she exclaimed, it’s come to this already? Okay,” she said, after giving the matter due consideration. “I’ll take 40 Reformed, 40 Conservative and 20 Orthodox.”


Astronaut David Wolf who not only made shuttle flights but spent four months at the Russian space station, Mir, has said that his first walk in space was a “religious experience.” He meant it. Later on, in 1997, while orbiting during Hanukkah, he brought a menorah and dreidel aboard. Given the fact that he couldn’t actually light his menorah without blowing up the craft, he did, however, set a record for dreidel spinning in zero gravity: an hour and a half. The dreidel went missing, but was later recovered after in an air filter after having traveled, estimated Wolf, “about 25,000 miles!”


Hanukkah was approaching. Fortunately, we had among us a man who was a wizard at handicraft [Valery Krijzak]. For Hanukkah, Krijzak made a wonderful dreidel out of bread but it was the day before Hanukkah and we still didn’t have any candles. Then the miracle of Hanukkah took place in our cell. Krijzak moaned, “Doctor, I am having a terrible hemorrhoid attack. Please give me some suppositories.” Now we had the material from which to make candles enclosed behind thick steel doors. But we were still with our people.
-- Refusenik Yosef Begun, “Hanukkah in a Soviet Prison”