A Channukah Celebration by Rochelle Reich

Channukah traditions are plentiful. Some of them are delicious and greasy, some are spent with other families in public, and some are confined to the warmth of our living room. Each type of celebration is unique, yet linked to one another through celebrating religious freedom and the love of family. All of them are equally precious.

Our boys (Alex age 8 and Logan age 4) usually start “discussing” which menorah they will use several months before Channukah begins. (I internalize this discussion as my own reminder to stock up on candles and wrapping paper before the limited supply in Asheville is gone.) Typically, there is much discussion as to who is using the Mickey Mouse one and who is using the racecar while selecting from our collection of about twelve menorahs.

At home, during the eight days of Channukah, our family lights candles on three menorahs: one for each boy and then one for our family. Together we recite the prayers and then the boys each open a small present. My personal favorite Channukah tradition is making potato latkes together (and eating them of course!) and making applesauce from my mother-in-law’s secret recipe.

As a family we also celebrate Channukah with our community by attending festivities daily at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) where we sing songs, light candles, and hear stories read by the rabbis and other Jewish leaders from the community.

The boys each participate in the Channukah show with the other JCC pre-school and after-school children. This is certainly where our camera is used the most! Our family always attends the JCC Channukah dinner that this year is featuring the new addition of Shalom Sesame, which is an adaptation of Sesame Street where the characters travel to Israel, learn a few Hebrew words and celebrate some Jewish Holidays.

We also attend the celebration at our synagogue, Beth Israel, where the children play dreidel, the adults participate in a latke bake-off, and we add our menorah to a table with approximately 100 others for a community candle lighting that is both spiritually moving and visually breathtaking.