Fairbanks Jewish congregation holds virtual Hanukkah celebrations

Published: Dec. 17, 2020 at 4:23 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - December 17th is the eighth and final night of Hanukkah, and the Or HaTzafon Jewish Congregation of Fairbanks is observing the occasion with virtual ceremony.

Throughout the eight-day holiday, which is celebrated in remembrance of the Jewish recapture of Jerusalem by the Maccabean army in the 2nd century BCE, a candle is lit each night.

For the final night, a member of the synagogue will light the shamash, the leader candle, before using it to light the remaining eight candles. Attendees will then be entertained with flute music.

According to Elisabeth Nadin, Board of Directors Secretary for the congregation, Or HaTzafon has about 85 families who belong to the synagogue.

Nadin said Hanukkah celebrations are usually held at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge and involve dinner. This year, the congregation decided to hold virtual gatherings every evening starting December 10th, which include a variety of music and entertainment.

“One of the really nice aspects of it is you can send the invitation out to anybody, so my parents showed up. They live in Dallas, Texas. I know another member of the community, her parents showed up and they’re on the east coast,” she explained.

Nadin said Hanukkah is about “bringing light into dark times, and there’s nothing more literal than that in the middle of winter in Alaska, frankly.”

She said holding Hanukkah events virtually has allowed the community to come together in a way it often doesn’t. “It’s easy, you’re just at home, you turn on your computer, and you can join together, even if it’s just for a brief moment, right? And you can do that any night of the eight nights, or you can do it all of the eight nights, whereas in a normal year people are often traveling.”

In addition to being held via Zoom, the event can be viewed online at the congregation’s Facebook page.

More information about Or HaTzafon, Hebrew for “Light of the North,” can be found on their website.

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