The Festival of Lights: Hanukkah 2022

Anjeli Webb

Founded in Santa Ana in 1967, Benjies NY Deli serves authentic Jewish food such as Matzo ball soup and Egg Creams. Visit their website at

Anjeli Webb, Editor

It is almost the time of year when Jewish families commemorate the miracle of the oil by eating foods fried in oil such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donut dusted with powdered sugar) while listening to the Saturday Night Live classic “The Chanukah Song” by Adam Sandler. Yes, Mustangs, it is almost Hanukkah!

Also known as the “Festival of Lights,” Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the liberation of the Jews by the Jewish Maccabees Family over Syrian-Greek forces who captured them over 2,000 years ago. The rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (Beit Hamikdash) led to renewed religious freedom, which they observed by lighting a makeshift Menorah (lamp) since the Golden Menorah was stolen by the Syrian-Greeks. However, the Jewish people only had enough oil to last one night–or so they thought. The miracle of Hanukkah was that the oil that the Jews had sustained the flame for eight days until more oil became available–a sign that “G-d was protecting His people.”

This year (yes, it changes every year), Hanukkah will start on the evening of Sunday, December 18th, and last through the evening of Monday, December 26th. Jewish people all over the world, especially Israel, will be playing with Dreidels (Jewish Spinning Top) and gifting Gelt (Kosher Chocolate Milk Coins).

Yorba Linda High School Student Leia Fidel (11) loves “eating latkes and lighting the menorah and saying the prayer every night with her family.” However, some Jews join in other winter holidays as well. Leia mentions, “I go look at Christmas lights and eat peppermints…I also celebrate Christmas with my extended family.”

I love eating latkes and lighting the menorah and saying the prayer every night with my family.

— Leia Fidel (11)

Ms. Sue Hallett frequents the Chabad of Playa Del Rey where Rabbi Aron Teleshevsky hosts weekly in-person and online Torah studies. She says that she “like[s] the first night of Hanukkah because you say three prayers instead of two prayers the first night” and “the tradition of the candle lighting.” Originally from New York, she also recommends Katz’s Delicatessen on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, famous for its kosher food and appearance in countless films and television shows. Mustangs can experience authentic Jewish food in Orange County at Benjie’s in Tustin.

One hidden part of Hanukkah is the “whole idea of saying prayers when you light the candles” according to Ms. Hallett. The Jewish prayer to light candles is called “Shema” and goes like this:

“Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us by his commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.

Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, Who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.”

On the first night, “Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this season” is added as well.

Fidel finds that Hanukkah is “not just about the gifts, it’s about recognizing our history and spending important time with the ones we care about that share our beliefs.”

So put on your Yamalkes, here comes Hanukkah!

Note: According to, whose purpose is to “Utilize internet technology to unite Jews worldwide, empower them with knowledge of their 3,300 year-old tradition, and foster within them a deeper connection to Judaism’s rituals and faith,” “many Jewish print and online publishers” are “particular to not spell out the name of our Creator, even in English. Rather we write “G-d.”

For more information about Judaism, visit