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Hanukkah: A Source of Nostalgia for Bella Vista Students Andrew Miller and Keila Debia

With the heartfelt cheer that is filling people as the holidays near, it is important to make the most out of the abilities that people have to properly educate themselves. Here, the Bella Vista Newsroom has interviewed two of its students, Andrew Miller and Keila Debia in hopes of getting a closer look at homes during the well-known Jewish holiday, Hanukkah.

How are you and your family celebrating Hanukkah this year? “Me and my family celebrate Hanukkah by lighting the menorah together for eight nights and blessing the candles. Sometimes we give each other presents or small gifts in honor of the seasons as well.” (Keila Debia)

“Well, the Jewish side of my family are all doing their own thing and not congregating with anyone outside their household.” (Andrew Miller)

Why is Hanukkah important to you? “Hanukkah is important to me because I get to carry on these beautiful traditions I learned when I was little. It gives me nostalgia from when I was a little kid waking up in the morning to the smell of my mom making latkes, and nostalgia of spinning the dreidel with my friends and family.” (Keila Debia)

“For me, Hanukkah is just a time for familial togetherness and a general jovial feeling. It’s not a hugely important holiday, but culturally it shows the strength of our people that we’ve had through millennia upon millennia.” (Andrew Miller)

How are your family traditions changing due to COVID-19? “Due to COVID our synagogue is closed which makes enjoying the traditions much tougher since the synagogue is where I get to enjoy the traditions outside of my family, like playing dreidel and singing the classics.” (Keila Dedia)

“COVID changed out congregation abilities.” (Andrew Miller)

What is your favorite thing about Hanukkah? Why? “Since Hanukkah lasts 8 nights at least one night of Hanukkah is going to be Shabbat. Shabbat is a weekly tradition of lighting two candles and eating Challah. I especially love Shabbat on Hanukkah because the challah is sososo good and we say different prayers for the candles which makes the night so much more special.” (Keila Debia)

“My favorite thing is dinner (usually brisket and a kugel). Plus the calm quiet feeling when everyone’s gone and you’re just sitting around eating leftovers, and its late and kinda cold.” (Andrew Miller)

Is there anything that you don’t look forward to as the holidays approach? Why? “As the holidays approach everything gets more crowded. The stores get full and people start travels. I love traveling and usually that’s my favorite thing to do, but in these times it’s crucial for everyone to stay home.” (Keila Debia)

“The worst things about the holidays are the crazy people” (Andrew Miller)

What are the top three things you look forward to during the holidays? “During the holidays I look forward to going snowboarding with my friends and family, time off from school and for the fresh start afterwards.” (Keila Debia)

How do you think the Jewish community can and/or should come together at Bella Vista? “We are a small community and because of that it is important to acknowledge each other’s presence. Because at BV we don’t have many people that I can share and relate my traditions which is important for everyone to be inclusive of everyone else’s celebrations, not only the Jewish ones.” (Keila Debia)

“I think that there should be a Jewish Student Union, and that the office (even though I celebrate both holidays) should put the same amount of Hanukkah decorations as Christmas decorations.” (Andrew Miller)

What safety measures are you and your family taking during the holidays? “Every year we love to go to the mountains to snowboard and visit family friends in socal but this year we are staying home. We wear masks everywhere outside of the house and are trying our hardest to avoid shopping in the big crowds.” (Keila Debia)

“The only safety measures we are doing is canceling our get togethers completely and doing drive by gift exchange (on all sides of the family).” (Andrew Miller)

As one can see, there is a cherishable amount of family traditions and admiration for the life-long connections made when the celebration of Hanukkah occurs. With many others that take this time to glorify Hanukkah, the Jewish community has the chance to grow and thrive as they come to encounter with one another. For those who don’t share the same traditions, they now have a source when building understandings of new traditions. As you can see by the comments made when answering questions concerning COVID-19, traditions have encountered several different unfavorable adjustments which is something that all people, of all different cultures, can relate to.

Words to know:

Menorah: a candelabrum used in Jewish worship, especially one with eight branches and a central socket used at Hanukkah.

Latkes: (in Jewish cooking) a pancake, especially one made with grated potato.

Dreidel: a small four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side, used in a children's game traditionally played at the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

Challah: a loaf of white leavened bread, typically plaited in form, traditionally baked to celebrate the Jewish sabbath.

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