Hanukkah! The Festival of Lights is such a joyous and festive holiday each year! It’s pretty tough to compete with Christmas (especially in Oklahoma), but it is so important that we show our daughters how special Hanukkah can be.
All of the Jewish Holidays are by the Lunar calendar, which means Hanukkah is at a different time each year. This year, Hanukkah begins on the eve of Thursday, Dec. 7.
The Jewish community here in Oklahoma City is small but oh-so-vibrant! Our family loves to attend the annual Menorah Lighting at Scissortail Park on Dec. 10. At this event, kids will perform Hanukkah songs and honored members of the community get to light the HUGE menorah.
On a smaller scale, our family will always get together with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to enjoy a festive Chanukah meal. For many of us, a traditional Chanukah meal includes savory brisket, fried potato latkes (much like hash browns) with applesauce or sour cream and a delectable chocolate dessert and jelly-filled doughnuts. To commemorate the miracle of the oil lasting eight days, we are supposed to fry our foods in oil. Bring on the sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) and latkes (potato pancakes)!
You might have seen a dreidel or two in your time; it’s essentially a spinning top that children play with at Chanukah time. The game is pretty simple: spin the dreidel and if you land on Gimel: you win; Hay: you take half; Shin: Put one in or Nun: you get nothing! We like to play dreidel with gelt (chocolate coins), but it is so tough to not gobble the gelt instead of hoarding it to win the game!
In our family, our girls look forward to receiving one small gift each of the eight nights of Chanukah. We always light the menorah first, eat our dinner and then one gift can be opened. Suspense is everything!
Julia Assef is a local realtor and an involved member of the Jewish Community in Oklahoma City. She and her home builder husband, David, have two precious girls, Esther (9) and Scarlett (7) who are being raised to love and appreciate their Jewish traditions and rich history.