The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is a vibrant cultural festival and celebration. The story’s origins date back to 167 B.C.E., when a group called the Maccabees recaptured the Second Temple in Jerusalem from under King Antiochus’ rule and rededicated it. The Maccabees cleaned up the Temple and lit a menorah, which they thought had only enough oil to burn for one day. As the story goes, the oil lasted for eight days and eight nights. That is why we celebrate Hanukkah for eight nights. The dates of Hanukkah vary based on the Jewish lunar calendar; this year, Hanukkah is from December 7-15, 2023.
While traditions and customs vary around the world, Hanukkah is most commonly practiced in the United States by expressing gratitude, sharing in communal joy, and giving back to others. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the miracles and special moments that take place in our lives and explore their deeper meaning as a source of inspiration.
Friends and family typically observe Hanukkah by savoring classic fried foods – like latkes (potato pancakes) and jelly donuts – giving a nod to the oil that kept the temple’s menorah glowing. Festive traditions also include lighting candles on a Hanukkah Menorah and saying prayers nightly; playing a game called dreidel; exchanging gifts and sharing in song while remembering the ancient temple candles that miraculously burned for eight days and nights.
To celebrate Hanukkah together, we invite the greater Denver community to join us for Latkes and Lights, on Sunday, December 3 from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. Back for a second year, this annual event is the Hanukkah hype party your whole family will enjoy. Children can build clay dreidels, color holiday-themed pictures, and explore our interactive light sensory room. While kids enjoy arts and crafts, parents and adults can peruse the maker’s market selling ceramics, photographs, paintings, and other creative holiday gifts while listening to live Klezmer music. Luisa Hagemeier, owner of Challahrado Hearth, will be sampling fresh pita and olive oil and selling Jewish baked goods.
The event also features the much-anticipated restaurant latke competition, which brings renowned, local Jewish cuisine to the JCC Denver, including Rosenberg’s, Safta, Zaidy’s, Latke Love, Levan Deli, and Keepsake. Attendees will have the chance to vote for their favorite latke at the event. There will also be a community latke competition. The restaurant and community competitions will be voted on by attendees and special celebrity guest judges.
This all-ages event offers something for everyone including those who are not Jewish, so invite your grandparents, neighbors, colleagues, partners, and friends to join. This event is proudly offered on a sliding-scale ticket pricing model.
Let’s continue to shine light in the world in the face of darkness and say, “Happy Hanukkah!”
The Staenberg – Loup Jewish Community Center is open to everyone and is located at 350 S. Dahlia Street in Denver. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.jccdenver.org/portfolio-items/latkes-and-lights/.