Kicking off Hanukkah a bit differently this year

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The holiday season as it pertains to December is upon us and like many things, will look a bit different this year.

The word ‘Hanukkah’, in hebrew, means rededication.

And while the holiday has evolved over the years, many of the Jewish faith are rededicating themselves to their faith and staying safe among a global pandemic this year.

Celebration of a macabee military victory and a miracle of oil & light will kick off tonight in Jewish homes across the Wyoming Valley, NEPA, and the nation.

A few traditions will be missing.

The annual Hanukkah run that culminates in public lighting of a menorah in Wilkes-Barre canceled.

The Scranton JCC is still planning on having a form of drive-through public lighting, but no gatherings at synagogues.

The Wyoming Valley JCC had several other plans to try and bring some cheer, but out of an abundance of caution, Rabbi Larry Kaplan from Temple Israel in Wilkes-Barre says worship and most celebrations will actually be a bit more traditional this year.

“We do like to celebrate Hanukkah, but it’s usually done as a family. So it’s usually a home kind of a thing. Anyway, the Jewish community at large does like to get together to light the menorah”

So some of the public pomp and circumstance that has accompanied Hanukkah’s growth over the years may be a bit more subdued. That’s not putting too much of a damper on the private festivities at home.

“We’re certainly going to do live music and stories and everything I might do a magic trick but it’s off it’s definitely going to be on zoom. The reason to have a quarantine Hanukkah, so that you can have it next time. You know, and that’s what we want to do.” said rabbi Daniel Swartz from Temple Hesed in Scranton.

On the other hand, rabbi Kaplan over at temple Israel tells Eyewitness News that those of Jewish faith across the Wyoming Valley are actually tuning in more to online worship and there’s more of a spiritual connection to the community, that’s sure to continue over the next 8 nights.

As many families get ready to light the first candle on their menorahs tonight, rabbis Kaplan and Swartz hope this time next year, some more families get to do it together.

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