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Blog - It's all Greek to me!!!!

Life in Greece with a Jewish twist

"Sharing Light" 2009

2007_December_183.jpg2 years ago, Mendel had this daring idea: distribute Chanukah candles to all Jews in Athens, going from house to house and making sure each family has the opportunity to celebrate and bring joy and light into their homes. We were already distributing candles to many people in the past years, but Mendel wanted to take this to a whole new dimension.
Equipped with colorful candle boxes and a nice brochure with the blessings and a message for the holiday, we went from neighborhood to neighborhood, sometimes meeting friends or acquaintances, sometimes new people, and receiving (mostly) very positive reactions! People were thrilled to receive the candles. One evening, it was late already, and we weren’t sure if to ring the bell. We decided to give it a try and left the candles there. The next day, T. called Mendel all excited: “How did you know? The very same morning, I told my wife I don’ know where to get candles from, and in the evening, you bring them to our door!”
The project was not easy to realize, we spent days and days in the car with maps, with the GPS, which proved not to be always reliable. One time we were in Lykavettos, a very hilly area, and the GPS authoritative voice tells us: “Turn left”… unto some stairs!!! We continued and she urged us: “Turn left NOW!” and after we passed it we heard the dreaded: “You are now off track!”. That was quite funny, actually!
2007_December_188.jpgThe picture you see here is of my loyal companion to the northern routes, Levi Yitschak, who was then too young to be left for long periods…  (Our dear friend Riki took care of the Southern suburbs, may she be blessed, what dedication!)
We realized though that it was too much for us. Athens is huge, there is a lot of traffic, and if we truly wanted to reach everyone, we had to get more volunteers to participate in the project. Last year already, more volunteers helped us reach many more homes, but this year, the project “sharing light” is taking off in a bigger and more organized way. There are now 48 volunteers distributing candles in their area, discovering many people from the community leaving not far from them. One volunteer even found that a friend he had lost touch with lived around the corner from him!  
What is great about this project, I feel, even more than the joy and the light that are being added to the world, is the feeling of community that is created, the connections that are made, and in general the feeling that all together, step by step, we make a difference and transform this world into a better place.
And isn’t that the very message of Chanukah?!
(Check out Jewtube for cute clips about Chanukah, I will be adding more during the whole week, so check again to see the new stuff!)

10 important facts about Chanukah

1. Get ready! Chanukah begins this year at nightfall of Friday December 11. The Chanukah candles are lit before the Shabbat candles. In Athens, the Candle lighting time is 16:44. On Saturday they are lit after Shabbat goes out at 17:44.
2. A great selection of Jewish presents, Chanukah articles and Judaica is available at the Bazar of the Resteion, this Sunday December 6, from 10:30 to 17:30, where we will have a stand (Directions to the Resteion). (We will also have a stand at the school Bazar on Sunday, December 13). See you there, and remember that all proceeds do to charitable causes!
3. These very days, 48 volunteers are distributing Chanukiya and candles to all Jewish households of Athens! The project “sharing light” is received with great enthusiasm and this is the occasion to congratulate and thank all the volunteers. There are still a few areas to cover so if you wish to participate in the project “sharing light” and distribute candles in your area, please contact us!
4. Chanukah, celebrated this year for the 2,147th time, commemorates the miracle of the victory of the few against the many, as well as the miracle of the oil that lasted for 8 days. To read more about the story of Chanukah, click here . Chanukah is the occasion to pay attention to the small miracles surrounding us!
5. Since the miracle happened with oil, the tradition is to eat fried foods such as potato latkes and/or deep-fried doughnuts known as sufganiyot. Click here for some great recipes. Warning: May result in extra weight. 
6. Chanukah means dedication in Hebrew. Following the Maccabees' victory over the Syrians Hellenists, they reclaimed the Holy Temple and rededicated it to the service of G-d. Chanukah is also related to the word “Chinuch” – education. Did you know that you have more than 40 parenting articles (in Greek) in our website? (click here for many more in English)
7. It takes 44 candles, including the shamash to properly celebrate all the nights of Chanukah. If you need candles, please, don’t hesitate to contact us!
8. Playing dreidel (sevivon) is a nice Chanukah tradition. Under the rule of Antiochus, Torah study was forbidden so it was studied in secret. If an official came along, Jewish children would quickly pull out these toys and appear to just be playing. The letters nun, gimmel, hay and shin stand for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, "A great miracle happened there." In Israel, the shin is substituted with a Pei, making it Nes Gadol Hayah Po, "A great miracle happened here." Click here for more questions and answers Greek and English .
9. Chanukah is a time of games, of joy, of family and friends gathering. Get into the spirit with this fun crossword made by Elias Messinas.
10. Don’t forget to send Chanukah greeting cards to your friends and family!
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