The Light of Hanukkah 


Sam Weltsch

Fully-lit menorahs on the last day of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah, a holiday celebrated by the Jewish people of our community, has just ended. The Festival of Light reunites family and friends for multiple days of fun and festivities; yet, it tends to be overlooked by many people.

“In some ways, I understand that it’s overlooked because (only) … a small population …celebrates it, but it does get kind of annoying when it’s Nov. 1 and … all the students are like, ‘Woo hoo, it’s Christmas,’” Sam Weltsch said, a senior at Granite Bay High School.

The festival of light is celebrated by a small group of students at GBHS, and you don’t have to celebrate this special holiday to enjoy the foods that also come with it.

“(My favorite Hanukkah food is) Latkes, no contest. It’s like our potato pancakes. … You cook it kind of like a burger patty.” Omer Zilberman, a GBHS sophomore, said. “(during) Hanukkah, you eat a lot of oily foods to symbolize the oil used to light the candles back during the Maccabee’s time.” 

According to tales that have been passed down from generation to generation, a small amount of oil lasted for eight days when it was only enough to last one day. The menorah, a symbolic and widely known symbol of Hanukkah, is usually seen inside the homes of those who celebrate the Festival of Light.

“Despite us having eight days of Hanukkah, we have nine candles. That’s because one of the candles, the middle candle, it’s called the shamash … (it is used) to light the other candles. We light one candle a night and then we just leave it burning in a safe place.” Zilberman said.

The first day of the holiday was on Nov. 28th, and that was when the first candle was lit. Hanukkah celebrators don’t only light menorahs every day. From dreidels to food, families and communities have multiple ways to celebrate the Festival of Light.

“After doing the prayers, (my family) opens a small present every night,” GBHS freshman Ryan Weltsch said. “Sometimes we’ll have other Jewish friends over or sometimes we’ll have family over.”

In places such as New York, there are more Jewish people, which makes it a very important and widely-celebrated holiday. People in busy locations that are populated by many Jewish members tend to have big festive open parties and gatherings whilst smaller communities don’t have as extravagant parties and have small gatherings with friends and family. 

“Normally (we celebrate) at home. If we get invited to a friend’s house, we’ll go there. Sometimes we’ll go to our synagogue and celebrate it,” said Ryan Weltsch.