The Garcia Family Middle School gets in the holiday spirit.  Photo: Zack Kaminsky
The Garcia Family Middle School gets in the holiday spirit. Photo: Zack Kaminsky

It’s that holiday that no one seems to know how to spell. Is it Chanukah, Hannukah, Chanukka, or Hanukka?  The answer is all of the above. Many know it to be the “Jewish Christmas” where children receive their presents over eight days. They know it’s during the holiday season, but even most of the Jewish students couldn’t tell you exactly what days it takes place each year. What is Hanukkah, and what is its significance?

Historically, Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights. As the story goes, the Maccabees rose up against a suppressive ruling regime in 167 B.C.E. that made the practice of Judaism punishable by death, but while rededicating the Temple in Jerusalem, they had one day’s supply of oil for the lamps. A miracle occurred, and the oil lasted a full eight days, allowing them time to replenish their inventory. To mark this event, the Jews celebrate for eight days each year. Even though it was not a ritual of Hanukkah, when Christmas presents became popular, people started buying gifts for Hanukkah, too, because of the similar timing. “The best Hanukkah present I ever got was my dog, Sammy,” said junior Brad Rubin.

With Pace’s high percentage of Jewish students, Hanukkah is a prominent event each school year. This holiday season, Hanukkah takes place from sundown on Dec. 16 to the morning of Dec. 24, and kids receive presents from their parents, light candles, and pray each of the eight nights of the celebration. “My favorite part of Hanukkah is lighting the menorah,” said sophomore Sophie Blasberg. Even non-Jewish students take enjoyment from the holiday, including junior Anthony Trinh. “I like potato latkes,” said Anthony. “I get them whenever I go to Goldberg’s.”

Whether you are Jewish or not, the holiday season is a great time to relax and spend time with family and friends. Get in the spirit, light some candles, spin the dreidel, and get some gelt!

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