Hannukah in Utah

menorah1According to chabad.org, more than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully convert the people of Israel to Greek customs and religion.   Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the holy temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to God.   When they sought to light the Temple’s menorah, they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.   Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, commemorates this miracle.   Although Hanukkah is probably the best known Jewish holiday because of its proximity to Christmas, it is actually a lesser holiday on the Jewish religious calendar.   Still, many non-Jews (and retailers hoping to harvest some profits from Jews during the season) think of it as the Jewish Christmas.  This article from Yahoo! Lifestyle explains why it’s not.

This is the second year that we have celebrated Hannukah here in Utah.  As you probably know, the majority of the population here are members of the LDS Church, usually known as Mormons … there are over 2 million Mormons here, 67% of the population.  There are under 10,000 Jews.   Not surprisingly, if I walk into the supermarket and ask someone if they carry Hannukah candles, I am likely to get a blank stare or a question … What kind of candles? … as an answer.   Hannukah paper and cards are missing in action.  Some retailers, believing the Jewish Christmas analogy, bring out their limited Hannukah goods around the 25th which doesn’t work most years.  Because Hannukah falls on the Jewish calendar, it can fall any time in December.  In fact, tonight is the last night of Hannukah (there are 8).   We are having our family and our new friends, Julie and Gary, over for a Hannukah dinner.

menorah 2ndSo, having failed to find Hannukah supplies anywhere, we ordered Hanukkah party supplies and candles for the menorah from (good old) Amazon.   The 100 year-old menorah my father-in-law, Abe, brought from Poland is in the dining room with candles in place.   With everything else in hand, my wife, Muri, and I set out to find Sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) which are a traditional Hannukah treat (here’s why).   But jelly donuts are apparently not a thing here in Utah … even Crispy Creme did not offer them.   After an internet search we found the Star Donut Cafe in nearby Sandy which allowed us to order a dozen and a half raspberry-filled donuts online.  When we picked them up this morning, I asked the woman behind the counter if she knew that jelly donuts were part of the Hannukah tradition.  She didn’t … but now she does.  And we are ready for our Hannukah party.  Bring on the donuts.  Hide that Hannukah gelt.  Spin those dreidels.

And Happy Hannukah to all.

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