As Christmas draws closer, many prepare furiously for the day of festivities; however, nearly a dozen SLVHS students are preparing for one of the other holidays.
While many people know of Chanukah, very few students truly know what Chanukah is. In order to see what some students thought, this reporter asked Andrew Chestnut, to which he replied, “I think Chanukah is a spiritual dance that a certain religion does.” While many may believe they understand more than that, many students know much less than they claim. The story of Chanukah is known to be a tall tale, as it was primarily added to replace the other eight day holiday which could not be celebrated during the first few centuries C.E due to the Roman tyranny. In fact, modern Chanukah is only celebrated with presents due to the emergence of Christmas as a national holiday. However, it is still a very minor holiday for Jews throughout the world.
The story of Chanukah is very simple. After the Assyrian Empire took over the Holy Land, a small rebel group called the Maccabees drove them out. However, after the Jews came to the now desecrated temple, the light that must always burn only had enough oil to burn for one day, while it takes eight days to make. The miracle is that this oil burned for the eight days, making the light never go out. For this reason, oily foods and light are celebrated during the eight day festival.
However, as presents may seem to be the largest part of the eight day holiday, many Jews find joy in the other festivities. Jacob Lion, a sophomore, said that “[His] favorite part of Chanukah is the food… [He] really likes the latkes and noodle kugel.” The traditional foods such as these and many more, are what truly makes Chanukah special for many Jews. In tradition, many fried foods are eaten to celebrate the use of the oil in the Chanukah story. Latkes, tzufganiyot, and jelly donuts, are among the more popular of the holiday foods. These jelly or custard filled donuts prove to be delightful during the holidays.
Another student, Jenna Solomon, sees this holiday as connected to the world. Her favorite part of Chanukah is “the overall positive spirit and being able to share something a little different about myself with my friends.” She sees this holiday more as a special time of year, than simply a day to give and receive presents and eat special food. Jenna loves this special time of year because it’s more than just the holiday. Because of its conjunction with Christmas, more than just Jews can enjoy the festivities; in fact, anyone can enjoy the tasty food, good spirit, and joy. Chanukah may be a Jewish holiday, but Jenna captures the essence of why it is so special; Chanukah is for everyone to enjoy.
By Ben Yanowitz