Today is the last day of Hanukkah and although this celebration may look different this year, it is important to honor its tradition. As mentioned in this article in December 15, 1911 Newark Evening Star and Newark Advertiser, Hanukkah is commemorated in synagogues and homes.
Hanukkah, which means dedication in Hebrew, is often called the Festival of Lights. A nine branch menorah is lit for each of the eight nights, the ninth candle being the helper candle, used to light the others. During the lighting of the menorah, people recite blessings and place it in the window as a reminder to others of the significance of this holiday.
Many synagogues provide services and programs for adults and children alike that include lighting of the menorah candles. This article from the December 24, 1913 Newark Evening Star and Newark Advertiser, lists a few events hosted by Jewish synagogues and organizations to “preserve” the religion and its sacred traditions.
There is also much fun to be had during the evening services. Nights are filled with games, traditional foods, and gifts. People are known to play with four sided spinning tops, called dreidels. Music also plays an important part in Hanukkah observances. The traditional foods include potato pancakes (latkes) and jam filled donuts (sufganiyot). The December 24, 1913 issue of the Newark Evening Star and Newark Advertiser reports of a party hosted by the Perth Amboy Hebrew school that included a ‘Chanukah masquerade’ contest complete with prizes and noted a pending ‘latke party.’
Although there are no school or work restrictions on this holiday, it still remains an important part of Jewish tradition.
Contributed by Kristi Chanda and Giovanna Pugliese
History.com Editors. “Hanukkah.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 27 Oct. 2009, www.history.com/topics/holidays/hanukkah.