Hanukkah Happiness

It’s December 7, 2018 and with Hanukkah in full swing, there’s no better time than to show you a glimpse of the foods of this special holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights.

What Does Hanukkah Mean?

Hanukkah, which means, dedication, honors the rededication of the Temple in 165 BCE. The rededication came after one of the greatest military victories of all time for Israel.

Against all odds, The Maccabees, a small, seemingly weak group of Israelites fought back against Antiochus’ soldiers who occupied their land and brutally oppressed them. In fact over, 100,000 Jews were slaughtered because they refused to give up a life of biblical observance. They were tortured for being religious Jews. 

After the miraculous and glorious defeat, the Maccabees found the Temple grossly defiled with the blood of a pig and statue of Zeus. As they labored to clean, purify and rededicate the Temple, the historian Josephus claimed that they only had a one-day supply of olive oil in the Temple’s menorah but it miraculously burned for eight days during the rededication. 

Why 8 nights?

As a remembrance, Hanukkah last for 8 nights and each night a lit candle is added to the 9 branch menorah, starting with one candle for the first night all the way to 8 candles on the eighth night. The ninth candle is called the shamash which means, servant. The shamash is used to light all of the the other candles. As the light increases each night, so does the ability to chase away the darkness.  

The only place Hanukkah is mentioned in the Bible is in the Gospel of John, since the events of Hanukkah took place around 165 BC, after the completion of the Tanakh (Old Testament).

“Now it was the Feast of Hanukkah in Jerusalem, and it was winter.
And Yeshua walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.” John 10:22-23

Hanukah is a time to celebrate the miracles of Jewish history, how the Jewish people kept the flame of truth alive and God’s word alive in the darkest of nights. It’s a time of light chasing away the darkness, victory over evil, weak over strong and rededication to God and righteous living. 

How to celebrate Hanukkah

To celebrate this light-filled holiday, people enjoy foods cooked in oil like latkes or donuts. The symbolic foods are a way to remember and symbolize the miracle of oil for the Temple menorah lasting 8 days when they only had enough for 1 day.  

That’s just the beginning…there is a lot more to this miraculous holiday that didn’t come without a fight for survival and the right to exist for the Jewish people.  How can you not admire and cheer on the determination and chutzpah of people who defy all odds while simultaneously making the world a better place? 

For example, take this chocolate filled sufganiyot, or stuffed donut, covered in gold flakes. THIS makes the world a better place!  These impeccable works of culinary art came from Roladin, one of Israel’s high end bakeries. I would like to give an award to anyone who can take their eyes off of this.

In Israel, even the food is elevated to a spiritual level. Just as scripture promises, Israel and the Jews are a light to the nations. May you be inspired to live a life that chases away the darkness and brings honor to His great name.
Bring on the bright lights and gold dusted donuts!  Happy Hanukkah!

Destination Jerusalem

“And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” Isaiah 62:7

Recently, a report came out that Jerusalem is poised to be the world’s fastest growing tourist destination. The numbers in the report are remarkable and only confirms what I’ve been trying to tell anyone who will listen, ha!

“In mid-November, the number of incoming tourists surpassed last year’s record of 3.6 million and the figure now stands at an unprecedented 3.8 million. Jerusalem is the world’s fastest-growing tourism destination, a report by London-based market research company Euromonitor International revealed this week. Jerusalem is the world’s fastest-growing tourism destination, a report by London-based market research company Euromonitor International revealed this week. Jerusalem is the world’s fastest-growing tourism destination, a report by London-based market research company Euromonitor International revealed this week. Jerusalem is the world’s fastest-growing tourism destination, a report by London-based market research company Euromonitor International revealed this week.

Euromonitor International

The picture above was taken from a rooftop restaurant in Jerusalem, overlooking the old city. You can see the Muslim Dome of the Rock currently under Jordanian rule, (that is a whole other mind boggling story for later), which is on The Temple Mount where the 1st and 2nd Jewish Temples stood before their destruction by the Byzantines and Romans. Looking directly past the gold dome, you can see a light colored sandy-looking area. That is the Mount of Olives from where Yeshua ascended into heaven his last day on earth.

“He led them out toward Beit-Anyah; then, raising his hands, he said a b’rakhah (blessing) over them and as he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.” Luke 24:50-51

Where Else?

Everytime I think about visiting somewhere other than Israel, nothing has the appeal Jerusalem does. Everywhere else is so lack lustre once you’ve experienced the best and most unique place on the planet.  

The history, culture, spirituality, politics, intensity, innovation, inspiration, food, wine, education, technology, the past, the now, the future…it’s all there.

Everything started in Israel and everything is going to end there.  The global main stage, the epi center of the world, the very heartbeat of the earth. Israel is insanely intense yet so peaceful, full of shalom, it’s no wonder this report came out.

Western Wall Tunnels, Jerusalem
Zechariah 8:4
Beautiful fountain near New City of David, Jerusalem

What Happened

On my first trip to Jerusalem, our group was very large which meant we didn’t have much room or time to linger at the Kotel. And we weren’t told that we were going to the Kotel the day we visited so I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have my hand-written prayers with me to place in the 2000 year old Western Wall…the moment I had waited for, for years. I was so heart broken over not being able to pray or soak in the moment of incredible spiritual richness that I decided to go back. My only chance to do that was on our final morning in Jerusalem before we left town at 8am. So I woke up at 5am and was walking down the street by 6am.

As I walked the 20 minute trek, it began to lightly rain. (In Israel, rain is considered a blessing as it waters the fields and crops that feed the nation plus 30% of exported fruits and vegetables to other countries.)

Once I reached the old city, I started walking through the market that leads down to the Kotel. The old city is divided into 4 parts, the Jewish Quarter, Muslim Quarter, Christian Quarter and Armenian Quarter. And each quarter has countless side streets, alleyways, twists and turns. For first time visitors, it’s so very easy to get lost or go the wrong direction.

It was early in the morning and all of the shops were closed with no one around to ask for directions.  Soon, I realized I was not sure which way to go and there wasn’t a soul in sight. I was lost. The clock was ticking and my time to pray was quickly passing. 

Desperate Prayer

Saying a quick but desperate prayer, I asked God for help. I barely had opened my eyes and out of nowhere a short, happy looking Jewish man walks up to me, asking if I am looking for the Kotel and did I need any help? 

God sent me an angel, y’all! He is faithful to hear AND answer our prayers!

He happily walked with me, showing me the way to the Kotel. As we walked and talked, I was blown away by his kindness and how he engaged me in talk about the bible. Then when he learned I was from Texas, he said quite enthusiastically, “WE LOVE TEXAS! When you see George Bush, tell him we love him too!”

As we reached the Kotel, my guardian angel pointed to the Temple Mount where the Temples once stood and will stand again and said in a hushed but absolute tone, “Look there, The Messiah is coming soon and He will reign from that very spot.” 

I was speechless. Here I was staring at the heart of God’s home listening to a Jewish man pour out his longing heart with unbridled anticipation of the coming of the Messiah. 

You see? Jerusalem. It is the Ultimate Destination. 

Eventually, I made my way to the Kotel, put my prayers in the ancient crevices and poured my heart out to God, thanking Him for allowing me to visit Israel, for sending me a guardian angel, for that moment, for waking me up spiritually, for showing me His heart, His land, His people and begging Him to please let me come back. 


Prayers at the Kotel
Yemen Moshe Neighborhood
Southern Steps of the Temple Mount in foreground. Mount of Olives in background
The bustling market in the Old City
Streets of Jerusalem
The Shuk, Jerusalem
Steps ascending the Temple Mount

Just the fact that Israel is only 70 years old as a modern nation since 1948, a mere short 3 years after 6 million Jews were murdered at the hands of evil anti-semitism is mind-boggling on its own. Even more mind boggling is what the Jews have done with that tiny super power country in the last short 70 years…completely astounding.

The way the city moves, the personality of her people, the presence of the world, the place God chose to put His name and His throne; I love everything about it.  The truth is, I feel most alive when I am in Israel and closest to God when I am in Jerusalem.

Where It All Began

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