Students celebrate Hanukkah


Courtesy of Katie Schuman

Senior Miranda Schuman with her younger sister and dad lighting their menorahs after the eight nights of Hanukkah.

Kusum Rao, Staff Writer

The flickering light from the menorah and the fresh smell of home-cooked meals mark traditions of Judaism’s festival of lights, Hanukkah. This Jewish holiday celebrates the rededication of the holy temple of Jerusalem. Some popular Hanukkah traditions include the lighting of the menorah and playing dreidel, both of which have a detailed backstory trailing back to the Maccabees victory over the Syrian Greeks in 164 BCE. 

“My favorite tradition around Hanukkah is when my cousins come to my house and my mom makes tacos and latkes,” senior Miranda Schuman said. “Latkes and jelly donuts are the main foods prepared for Hanukkah and [taste] best with applesauce.” 

As with most cultural holidays, food is symbolic in heritage and tradition. Some dishes prepared on Hanukkah are Latkes, which are a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dish made from fried potatoes, and Sufganiyot, which is a jelly doughnut considered a staple in Israeli cuisine. A wide variety of these dishes are deep-fried in oil to symbolize the small amount of oil that managed to burn for eight days after the rededication of the holy temple in Jerusalem. 

“Latkes are the most general food that is eaten on Hanukkah but we also tend to have chicken most days as well,” senior Josh Thomas said. “My dad always makes a really good traditional meal on the first night that always tastes amazing.”

Gift giving has not only shaped the traditional American holiday season but has also influenced how American Jews celebrate the holidays. This year Hanukkah was celebrated from Nov. 28 to Dec. 6, the season of gift giving. According to ReformJudaism, gift giving on Hanukkah originally wasn’t a practice but instead focused on sacrifice to the holy temple as a means of celebrating the rededication. Jewish families have taken to giving presents during Hanukkah as this time represents a season of gratitude for many. 

“[Gift giving] has become [common] because of its proximity to Christmas, but originally it wasn’t,” Thomas said. “However, for as long as I can remember, my family has given a gift on each night.” 

The menorah lit on Hanukkah, “known in Hebrew as the hanukiah” is displayed usually in windows after the eight nights. Many use this time to come together and recite blessings as it serves as a sign of the miracle that initiated the holiday. 

“I love being able to see my cousins and grandma during Hanukkah because it’s one of the only times each year we can all get together,” Schuman said.