US Hanukkah 2021: Celebrating the holiday after a year of adversity
Bidens open holidays with Christmas tree and 'friendsgiving'
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden opened the holiday season at the White House by breaking off a sprig from the official Blue Room tree and giving it — and a big smooch — to her toddler grandson. “Look how beautiful this is,” the first lady said of the 18 1/2-foot (5.6 meter) Fraser fir that was delivered by wagon to her Pennsylvania Avenue doorstep by Clydesdale horses named Ben and Winston. “It is beautiful. It's magnificent, really,” she said Monday.The first lady later joined President Joe Biden for a visit to the Army’s Fort Bragg in North Carolina to celebrate “friendsgiving” with service members and military families.
Celebrating Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is a bright spot for Jewish people after nearly two years of living in a pandemic. Overworldwide from Covid-19, but rising vaccination numbers have allowed a mixture of virtual and in-person events this year.
The ancient Hebrew calendar determines when Hanukkah is celebrated -- not the Gregorian calendar -- which is why the dates change from year to year. In 2021, the holiday will be celebrated from sundown on November 28 to sundown on December 6. The holiday often falls around Christmas, but the two have nothing in common.
Man Charged in Jan. 6 Riot Faces Charges in Arizona for Allegedly Damaging Hanukkah Display
Rabbi Levi Levertov said the targeting of a religious sign was "an attack on an entire community."Tim Gionet, a far-right social media personality who calls himself "Baked Alaska," has not yet entered a plea for the criminal damage and attempted criminal damage charges he faces in Arizona.
The ancient ruler King Antiochus IVand forced Jews to worship the Greek gods. The Maccabees, an army made up of followers of priest Mattahias and his son Judah Maccabee, rose up and pushed out King Antiochus IV. The Jews reclaimed the temple in the 160s BC, which is what the holiday honors.
A light in the darkness
One of the cornerstones of Hanukkah celebrations is lighting the menorah each of the eight nights of the holiday. Lighting the menorah reminds Alana Rudkin of Pittsburgh that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness.
"I would encourage folks to connect to their inner light, making room for self-reflection and growth," Rudkin said.
Rudkin volunteers at The Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh, a Jewish community-based group that works to enrich the lives of youth and adults in the Pittsburgh area.
Europe's Christmas markets warily open as COVID cases rise
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The holiday tree is towering over the main square in this central German city, the chestnuts and sugared almonds are roasted, and kids are clambering aboard the merry-go-round just like they did before the pandemic. But a surge in coronavirus infections has left an uneasy feeling hanging over Frankfurt's Christmas market. To savor a mug of mulled wine — a pleasurable rite of winter in pre-pandemic times — masked customers must pass through a one-way entrance to a fenced-off wine hut, stopping at the hand sanitizer station.
Rudkin's family celebrations have also changed due to the pandemic. She usually makes latkes, which are fried potato pancakes, with her family, and then invites friends over to share the food.
"My dad would have us hand-grating potatoes really until our fingers would bleed," Rudkin said.
Last year, she decided not to invite friends over, but she still made latkes with her parents at home.
Jewish people traditionally fry their latkes in oil to commemorate the miracle of the Maccabees' long-burning oil.
Online family celebrations
In 2019, New York City resident Lisa Gaetjens' family threw a party for dozens of family and friends filled with traditional foods like latkes and sufganiyot, which are fried jelly doughnuts.
Her family decided to transition their party online last year, which was a smaller affair.
"It's very disappointing to not be able to physically be with our families for this holiday, but it's also the best option," Gaetjens said.
Hanukkah 2021: When it is and what to know (no, it's not the 'Jewish Christmas')
Known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C. The event occurred when Jews rose up against Greek-Syrian rulers in the Maccabean Revolt and drove them out of Jerusalem, according to the History Channel. To mark their victory, Jews wanted to reclaim the temple and light its menorah, but only found enough pure olive oil for one day, according to Chabad.org. That one-day supply lasted eight and is considered a miracle in Jewish faith. Every year, Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of Kislev, a month in the Hebrew calendar.
Her mother-in-law coordinated food to be delivered to each attendee's home so everyone could enjoy the same meal together.
Rabbi-in-residence Avram Mlotek of Marlene Meyerson Jewish Community Center in New York City participated in virtual celebrations last year, with a latke cooking class and menorah lightings offered online.
Meyerson believes that Jewish people are prepared to celebrate online because they had to do it early on in the pandemic. "When Passover was around and we had to celebrate in isolation, I reminded folks that actually the first Passover was also celebrated in a type of quarantine," Mlotek said.
In the Bible, Mlotek said, the angel of death swept over Jewish homes, but because they marked their homes and stayed inside, they were safe.
As a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, Mlotek is no stranger to darkness and despair. He hopes to reach a larger audience of current and future generations of Jewish people to celebrate life and Hanukkah this year.
Adam Sandler Raves Over Haim’s Updated Cover of His “Chanukah Song” .
Adam Sandler praised rock band Haim's hilarious updated rendition of his beloved SNL hit "the Chanukah Song" and its references to Timothée Chalamet, Doja Cat, and more.As part of the rock band's yearly ‘Haimukkah' festivities, the three sisters—Este, 35, Danielle, 32, and Alana, 29—performed a hilarious cover of Adam Sandler's Saturday Night Live hit "The Chanukah Song" on Friday, Dec. 3.