For many Palm Beach residents, Hanukkah is a small family celebration this year – Palm Beach Daily News

Posted By on December 16, 2020

ADRIANA DELGADO|Palm Beach Daily News

Traditionally, Ruthie Friedmanalong with her husband Rob and their three children, Sam, Rose and Maxwould celebrate Hanukkah by attending the large Worth Avenue menorah lighting event organized by The Chabad House .

But with the spread of COVID-19, and the rising numbers inPalm Beach, the Friedmans andmany other Jewish families are celebrating Hanukkah, also known asthe Festival of Lights, differently this year.

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In the past, weve attended the menorah lighting organized by the Palm Beach Synagogue at Bradley Park, and community events that other synagogues like Chabad House have put together, Friedman said. But this year, we are not doing any in-person gatherings. I dont feel comfortable doing that with the current situation.

Instead, Friedman will be celebrating Hanukkah at home with her husband and children. They will be joined by her mother-in-law Marilyn, who will be bringing latkes, the traditional Jewish potato pancakes for dinner, but they will be observing social distancing guidelines and eating outdoors.

Hanukkah celebrates the rise of the Jewish people against Greek-Syrian oppressors.

The eight-day holiday represents the miracle of a one-day supply of oil for therededicated Temple in Jerusalem lasting eight days; Jews observe it bylighting a menorah candle every evening of the holiday.

In Palm Beach, community events that include public menorah lightings organized by synagogues and temples are normally held during the holiday, which began at sundown Thursday and end at sundown Friday. People often alsocelebrate at home with a large numberof family and friends.

With coronavirus infections on the rise, synagogues in town took a different approach. Some leaned toward online-only events held on Zoom, while others decided on a mix of livestreamed events and limited capacity in-person celebrations.

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Gathering to celebrate Hanukkah with larger groups outside of his immediate family is out of the question forStephen Lindsey.

"For me, visiting my family in Canada means I would have to quarantine for two weeks, which means I wouldnt even be able to enjoy any time with them, Lindsey said. I think the idea of not having any social interaction will be difficult, but the spirit of the holidays is going to be very important.

Lindsey, a British-Canadian citizen who has livedin Palm Beach for more than three decades, said he will miss seeing his children and grandchildren this year.

Im going to the candle lighting by myself and then celebrating by conference call with the kids. Normally they would fly here or I would go there, and right now thats not going to happen.

For Eric Silverman, Hanukkah is traditionally a quiet holiday in which people enjoy time together as a family after attending one large party or event.

He and his wife Svetlana plan to attend one or two in-person gatherings.

Im an optimistic kind of guy so my spin is that this year really isnt that different, Silverman said. Many of the nights, its just you along with your family, lighting the candles and enjoying time together.

Silverman has attended the Worth Avenue menorah lighting in the past, which drew approximately 300 people last year. He said even though those community celebrations are exciting, the other side of Hanukkah is that it can be very personal and family oriented.

In previous years, we usually attended large gatherings for one or two nights. But the rest is about spending it with your close family members, and that is one of the nicest parts of Hanukkah, he said.

Friedman said she feels grateful that the synagogues in town have kept the community connectedin a time when many people cant be together.

I am so appreciative to the rabbis and the temples for everything theyre doing.I think this holiday will be more personal, more family-centered than community-centered," Friedman said. Ill miss the events that arent happening this year;but I think it will still be a special holiday, just different.

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For many Palm Beach residents, Hanukkah is a small family celebration this year - Palm Beach Daily News

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