Chanukah (alternately spelled Hanukkah), meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, refers to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Macabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and “re-dedication” of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Modern celebrations of Hanukkah focus on family and friends and include the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah (also called a hanukkiyah); singing and playing special songs and games (dreidel); and eating foods prepared in oil including latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (donuts).
This year, Hanukkah is celebrated from the evening of Thursday, December 10 until the evening of Friday, December 18, 2020.
Also called the Festival of Lights, the holiday brings light, joy, and warmth to our homes and communities as we celebrate with candles, food, family, and friends. Light comes literally, with the lighting of an additional candle each day, and metaphorically, through a newer emphasis on charitable donations and a commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world) during the holiday. This year, due to Covid restrictions, families and communities are adjusting to celebrating differently, and in many cases planning to come together online through events such as the ones offered by Congregation Emeth.
Chanukah at Congregation Emeth
In past years, congregation families would share a potluck dinner in the synagogue social hall on the Friday night during Chanukah, followed by everyone bringing their chanukiyah (or menorahs, the Nine-branched candelabra used during the celebration) to the front of the sanctuary and lighting the candles together before an Erev Shabbat (Friday evening) service. The congregation has also led community celebrations of Chanukah in downtown Morgan Hill, lighting the giant chanukya along with the community’s Christmas Tree outside of the Community Center. Like other groups, the congregation has shifted to innovative online programming this year to be able to come together and celebrate while social distancing.
This year, the congregation will hold an online candle lighting for each of the eight nights of Chanukah. Each night, a different group or individuals in the congregation will be honored.
On Friday, December 11th, the second night of Chanukah, Congregation Emeth will hold an online Chanukah Family Shabbat Service, led by Rabbi Dantowitz and Student-Rabbi Mira Weller. The services will feature a Chanukah story told by students of the congregation, who are recording their portions at home.
On Sunday, December 13, there will be a congregation-wide celebration including latke making and other fun activities. Following the event, the congregation will join other communities around the world to participate in the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) Chanukah celebration. The event, “Many Candles, One World: A Virtual Chanukah Celebration” will feature celebrities, as well as rabbis and cantors from around the world. Pre-registration is required, www.wupj.org/chanukah.
On Tuesday, December 15, Emeth’s Sisterhood will host an online Chanukah Party at 7pm. Congregation Emeth’s Sisterhood has been meeting regularly since 2001, before the congregation even had a permanent home. Sisterhood offers an opportunity for the women of Congregation Emeth to socialize and participate in activities. Members of Sisterhood have an annual Chanukah party and special Women’s Seder each year. They help out with Emeth’s annual fundraising events and create and deliver Yom Tov (holiday) baskets to congregants unable to attend services.
For more information about the events or other information about Congregation Emeth, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebrate Chanukah with Congregation Emeth
December 10 – 17, 2020
Thursday, December 10-Thursday, December 17
Congregation Emeth Daily Chanukah Candle Lighting, 6:45-7:00 PM
Friday, December 11
Chanukah Shabbat Service, 6:45 PM (begins with Chanukah candle lighting)
Sunday, December 13
Chanukah Festivities for the whole congregation:
Latke Making Fun, 4:00 PM
Many Candles, One World concert and performance by WUPJ (World Union for Progressive Judaism), 5:00 PM
Tuesday, December 15
Sisterhood Chanukah Zoom Party, 7:00 PM