Happy Chanukah, Chag Urim Sameach

12 December, 2017

by Jill Cogan, JCC Judaic Coordinator

Happy Chanukah, Chag Urim Sameach, A fraylichen Chanukah…these are all ways to greet each other during the eight nights of Chanukah. Happy Chanukah is self-explanatory; truly a catch-all, easily understood greeting that can be used with anyone you encounter. Chag Urim Sameach is a Chanukah-based twist on a traditional holiday greeting. Urim means “lights” in Hebrew, so Chag Urim Sameach is a nod to the commonly used description of Chanukah as the Festival of Lights. A fraylichen Chanukah requires a bit of Yiddish knowledge to understand, fraylichen translates to festive, and this greeting is often used in older, more observant Ashkenazi communities. Yiddish is actually making quite a comeback in some younger circles, so you can impress your Bubbie and Zayde with a little Yiddish greeting this Chanukah! You can choose which greeting resonates most with you, but all of them are equally acceptable and appropriate to use during the holiday season.

What I love most about Chanukah is the creative way different families approach their own celebrations. The eight nights of Chanukah are eight distinct opportunities to try something new. Imagine trying eight different kinds of latkes and sufganiyot, the flavor combinations are endless! I take my latkes very seriously, and have been known to make latkes out of brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and even turnips and parsnips. A tradition that I have adopted as an adult is “Fifth Night.” Fifth Night is an annual event where families learn to make a difference by donating a night of their gifts to a chosen children’s charity. The goal of Fifth Night is to help the children better understand and appreciate the importance of giving back by learning about the charity and the people who will be benefiting from their gifts. It is a great opportunity to reinforce the Jewish value of Tzedakah in your home, as well as a chance for children to make decisions about where their toys and tzedakah money will go. After all, it’s never too early to teach generosity and compassion to our children.

Chanukah 5778/2018 begins at sundown tonight, Tuesday, December 12. We hope you will join us for the 8th night at our Community Chanukah Celebration on Tuesday, December 19th from 6:00-8:00 pm. You can get a taste of our amazing superhero training program with Judah Macabee, use your brain and get some hands-on experience with our new STEAM lab, sing your favorite Hanukkah songs with me, have a nosh at our delicious latke bar, and much more! Register online today at

If you need help enhancing your personal Chanukah experience, please feel free to reach out to me. I am happy to provide you with resources and suggestions. Chag Urim Sameach to everyone!

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