Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah begins on December 10, 2020, and will continue for eight days of celebration until December 18, 2020. In the second century B.C., an eight-day Jewish festival known as Hanukkah, or Chanukah, commemorates the rededication. According to legend, Jewish people who took part in the rededication of the Second Temple witnessed what they believed to be a miracle.

Hanukkah, which in Hebrew means “dedication,” starts on the Hebrew calendar on the 25th of Kislev and usually falls in November or December. The holiday this year is during the first week of December. The holiday is also called the Festival of Lights, and it is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games, and gifts.

Mrs. Heather Landau, a teacher on campus who incorporates Hanukkah traditions into her household, shared some of her favorites. Mrs. Landau said, “The two very best things to eat for Hanukkah are potato latkes and jelly donuts. Both are traditional foods for the holiday. Some people like their latkes more savory eaten with sour cream, others like them sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon sugar and paired with homemade applesauce.”

Hanukkah’s celebration revolves around the kindling of a nine-branched menorah, referred to in Hebrew as the hanukiah or a menorah. After sundown on each of the eight nights of the holiday, another candle is added to the menorah; the ninth candle called the shamash (“helper”), is used to light the others. During the ceremony, Jews traditionally recite blessings and display the menorah prominently in a window to remind others of the miracle that inspired the holiday.

Hanukkah is a Jewish faith holiday that teaches individuals the idea behind lighting the candles after sunset. This means that in our lives, we’ve all witnessed dark times. The darkness often arises from an individual hardship, such as losing a career, a loved one, or a sense of meaning in one’s life.

According to Mrs. Landau, she and her family are taught many important lessons about this holiday’s true meaning. Landau said, “Hanukkah is a holiday about sacrifice and a miracle, but it also is about the importance of upholding family tradition, passing that on through the generations, and never forgetting where you come from. It also shows the importance of gathering with those you love to share those traditions. Lastly, it teaches you the importance of miracles when you learn the true story behind Hanukkah and the miracle of the oil that burned for eight nights.”

The notion of miracles encompasses the holiday season. Jewish people are celebrating the oil that was supposed to last for just one day, yet the miracle was that the oil lasted a full eight days, burning brightly. If the menorah is lit, there is an opportunity to tap into the miracle of light that shatters the darkness and opens up a world of possibilities.

Rancho Cucamonga High School has a diverse student population, and educating others about holidays is essential in taking the next step towards equity.

Sharing the influence of Hannukkah with students is enriching to get to know all the holidays observed on campus.

Mrs. Landau gives her students the culture of this holiday and faith as she says, “I think as human beings it is important that we take time to learn about people who are different from us so we may enrich our lives. To learn about cultural holidays, traditions, and beliefs that are different from our own allows us to understand the world better and hopefully make it a better place. Each culture has such beautifully rich traditions that are worth knowing and will ultimately make us better people.”

With this in mind, let’s celebrate the holiday season with one another and enjoy the rich, diverse tapestry in our community.