Dec. 6—In the joyous spirit of the holiday, members of Aiken's synagogue gathered to celebrate Hanukkah.
A few dozen people joined together at the Adath Yeshurun synagogue, 154 Greenville St. N.W., Sunday evening for a night of food, fun and fellowship. The synagogue was unable to hold a celebration last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but members were all smiles that it was back this year.
One of the traditional activities of Hanukkah is lighting the menorah. Each person who came brought their own menorah and lit them on the center table.
After that, platters of customary food were brought out, including latkes, which are potato pancakes served alongside sour cream and applesauce. There was also chicken, salad and lots of desserts.
Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days, beginning this year on Nov. 28 and ending the evening of Dec. 6. The holiday commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem and rededication of the temple there after the victory over the Syrians by the Maccabee family and its leader, Judah Maccabee.
Bill Schuster, synagogue president, likened the holiday somewhat to the biblical story of David and Goliath, saying "If you're on the side of right, you can prevail even though you're outnumbered or you're outgunned."
"It is a story of religious freedom and that's really essential to have in a society, for people to be able to practice their own beliefs," Schuster said.
Some in the room shared their favorite memories of Hanukkah.
Alan Brooks, a longtime member of the synagogue, said his favorite memory was going to see his grandparents and "lighting our menorahs at their house."
Schuster's favorite memory also involved his family.
"The last day of Hanukkah, we always had all the menorahs on the table and (got a) picture of (my children)," Schuster said. "People have pictures of their kids growing up through the years. One of our pictures we always had was the last night of Hanukkah with all the candles going."
Overall, Schuster said it was great to be around everyone who came, particularly after the challenges of the past year.
"It's very heart-warming to see people celebrating this joyous holiday, (as) they gather and try to come back to some semblance of normalcy," he said.