Celebrate ALL traditions this time of year and learn what you may have in common with other faiths.
Deborah Barton Grant, CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis, and her son Sam, chat with Firefighter Tim about Chanukah and the family traditions that make the holiday so special.
o About Chanukah
This time of year is perfect for showing how the Jewish community interacts with people of all different faiths; at this time of year, people are celebrating different holidays. It’s the perfect time to share how we may be different yet have so much in common – family, traditions, joyous celebrations, hope for the future
Chanukah is known as the Festival of Lights
Commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after a successful revolt by a band of Jewish fighters called the Maccabees against the Syrian-Greek empire that had attempted to destroy the Jewish faith. As part of the rededication, the victorious Jews needed to light the Temple’s menorah (seven-branch candelabrum), but they only had enough oil to last one day, and it would take eight days to prepare more. Miraculously, the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days, which is why Chanukah lasts for eight days.
A menorah has nine branches — one candle for each of the eight days of Chanukah plus another candle, called the shamash, to light them. The menorah is traditionally placed in a window facing the street, sharing the light and celebration with the world.
It is traditional to eat fried foods on Chanukah to commemorate the miracle of the oil. These include latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), among others.
Chanukah gifts have traditionally been small, like gelt (chocolate coins).
Gelt are often used as a prize for winning a game of dreidel, traditionally played on Chanukah. Each side of the dreidel (spinning top) has a different Hebrew letter on it. Each letter also indicates a different move that the player should make, e.g., gimmel means “take the whole pot”
A common greeting that means “Happy Chanukah”: Chanukah Sameach (sahm mee ah ch)
To learn more, visit:
o Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis
raises funds in support of the Jewish community – a network of people, agencies, programs and services that serve the Jewish community and community at large
More info on Chanukah: https://www.jewishindianapolis.org/chanukah (includes the Community Lighting Schedule)
o J Café
Inside the JCC of Indianapolis (Jewish community center); the café is open to the public
Hours 8:30 am–2:30 pm M-F
Available via Grubhub
o PJ Library
Sends free, age-appropriate books and music to families wishing to connect with their Jewish heritage; the books include guides for parents to talk with their children about Jewish values
There are also programs for new parents and for pre-teens
If anyone is interested in celebrating with the Jewish community, throughout the holiday several different Jewish organizations will take turns lighting the large outdoor Community Menorah on the Max & Mae Simon Jewish Community Campus, which all are welcome to attend:
First Night: Sun, Dec 22 at 5 pm – Congregation Beth Shalom
Second Night: Mon, Dec 23 at 5 pm – Jewish Community Center Early Childhood Education/Afterschool Care and Hooverwood nursing home
Third Night: Tue, Dec 24 at 5 pm – Chabad-Lubavitch of Indiana
Fourth Night: Wed, Dec 25 at 5 pm – Etz Chaim Sephardic Congregation
Fifth Night: Thu, Dec 26 at lunchtime (Jewish Family Services and Libby & David Fogle Senior Lunch Bunch) and 5 pm (Jewish Community Relations Council staff)
Sixth Night: Fri, Dec 27 at 4:45 pm – Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation
Seventh Night: Sat, Dec 28 at 7 pm – Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis staff
Eighth Night: Sun, Dec 29 at 5 pm – Congregations Beth-El Zedeck and Shaarey Tefilla