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Postal News: Hanukkah Forever stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service

December 11, 2013
By KATHLEEN SWANSON , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Customers may purchase the 46-cent Hanukkah Forever stamps in sheets of 20 at: usps.com/stamps, at 800-STAMP24 (782-6724) at post offices nationwide and on eBay at: ebay.com/stamps.

The stamp art is a photograph of a contemporary forged-iron menorah created by blacksmith Steven Bronstein of Marshfield, Vt. Nine lighted white beeswax candles top each of the branches. "Hanukkah" - the Hebrew word for "dedication" - is spelled out across the top of the stamp in yellow letters.

Art director Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Md., designed the stamp. George E. Brown of Alexandria, Va., was the photographer.

Celebrated by Jews around the world, Hanukkah, the joyous Festival of Lights, spans eight nights and days of remembrance and ritual. The holiday commemorates the victory of the Jews, led by Judah Maccabee, over the armies of Antiochus IV and the Seleucid Empire in 165 B.C.E.

Tradition relates how a miracle took place during the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been desecrated. The sacramental oil, thought to be enough for only one day, burned for eight days.

The miracle of the oil is at the heart of the ritual of the lighting of the hanukiah, a menorah or candelabra with nine branches, one for each of the eight nights and days of Hanukkah, and the ninth, the shamash or "the servant," used to light the other candles. The hanukiah, used only at Hanukkah, is traditionally placed in the window of the home to proclaim the miracle to passersby.

After the lighting of the candles, family members might sing traditional songs and exchange gifts. Children play a game called dreidel. Competing for a pot of chocolate coins, nuts, pennies, or other prizes, each player takes turns spinning the dreidel, a four-sided top with letters on each side that form an acronym for the Hebrew saying "A great miracle happened there." Depending on the outcome of the dreidel's spin, the player either takes from or gives to the pot. The game ends when one player has won all the treats.

Feasting is an important part of the celebration as well. Foods associated with Hanukkah include latkes, potato cakes fried in oil; bimuelos, fried dough dipped in honey or sugar; and sufganiot, fried jelly doughnuts.

The eight nights and days of Hanukkah begin on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, a date that falls in late November or December. In 2013, Hanukkah begins at sundown Nov. 27.

Many of this year's other stamps may be viewed on Facebook at: facebook.com/USPSStamps, via Twitter at @USPSstamps or at: uspsstamps.com.

Kathleen Swanson is a spokeswoman for U.S. Postal Service.

 
 

 

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