Celebrating Hanukkah!


Darsh Singhania, Staff Writer

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that will begin this year on Dec. 22 and will end on Dec. 30. Traditionally, this holiday has been celebrated as a dedication to the Second Temple of Jerusalem, which had been desecrated by foreign powers in the past but was reclaimed by the Jewish people, led by Judah. This reclamation of the holy site is now celebrated as Hanukkah, and their main tradition of lighting the temple’s menorah still stands to this day. However, looking into the modern era, the purpose and values surrounding this holiday have changed drastically and morphed into something completely new.

Ms. Ariela Koehler, a science teacher at Irvington, recounts the significance of Hanukkah to her, saying that “To me, [Hanukkah is] not as significant [as other holidays], but society has placed more significance on it because it’s right next to Christmas… but given that, it’s just about spending time with family.”

In the United States, with the heavy focus on the specialty and the importance of Christmas, society automatically assumes holidays around this time of year are important for other religions too. As a result, the few that do consistently celebrate Hanukkah tend to do it with family rather than place immense religious significance on it.

“[My favorite memory is] probably spending time with my family in LA,” said Ms. Koehler. “On Hanukkah, many people light a menorah, so one year we lit one menorah for each member of the family, and so we had twenty-something menorahs all lined up, so that was really nice.”

What people do with their families during this holiday varies as well. Many people play a game called ‘dreidel’ spinning a small top to gamble with chocolate coins called ‘gelts.’ Others have more unique variants, incorporating other holidays’ traditions into their own. Due to this, some variants give gifts on this holiday, while others do not.

Ultimately, Hanukkah is a unique case of a holiday with much less religious and personal significance to many Jewish people internationally than what many people commonly believe.