From Darkness to Light
Hanukkah 2023/5784 (Hebrew calendar year)
Hanukkah is a holiday all about lights, and with the current turmoil in Israel and surrounding region and the spike in antisemitism around the world, we reflect on the history of Hanukkah to guide us in creating light this winter. In the Hanukkah story, the Jewish people faced serious persecution from the Greeks who desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem and outlawed Jewish prayer, study, and rituals. From a place of destruction, the Maccabees, a group of Jewish warriors, defeated the Greek armies and re-lit the Temple menorah.
From the destruction, the first thing to emerge was a single light, a sign of hope.
We call Hanukkah the Festival of Lights because the story shows how we brought light into one of the darkest periods of Jewish history. This story – from darkness to light, from destruction to hope – exists across Jewish holidays and throughout Jewish history. Since October 7, we too have perhaps felt a part of this narrative, as we live with the experience of destruction and darkness in the Jewish community and world.
But just as the Maccabees made a decision to bring light into the darkness of a desecrated Temple, we too can make a decision to bring light into our world today.
Read on for Hanukkah resources to help bring light into your home, family, and community this year.
Hanukkah is a joyous eight-day festival that tends to fall somewhere between late November and late December each year. In 2023 – 5784 in the Hebrew calendar – Hanukkah starts at sundown on Thursday, December 7 and ends at sundown on Friday, December 15.
Download our handy Hanukkah How-To guide that shares the basics: how to say the blessings over the candles, light the hanukkiah, make potato latkes, and play dreidel!
Throw a Sufganiyot Party!
Along with latkes (potato pancakes), sufganiyot (donuts) are one of the quintessential Hanukkah foods because they are fried in oil, reminding us of the Hanukkah story. Sufganiyot are typically jam-filled donuts, though they can be filled with many delicious flavors, creams, or chocolates. During Hanukkah in Israel you can find hundreds of sufganiyot in dozens of flavors lined up in bakery windows across the country.
Hanukkah and the winter holidays are a beautiful time to gather with family and friends and indulge in the sweetness of the season. Whether you get donuts from your favorite local bakery, try a fried dough recipe from the Jewish diaspora, or use our hack here – there’s no party like a sufganiyot party!
And if you’re an HMI alum, we’re making it extra easy to celebrate with our special Sufganiyot Party Alumni Micro Grant. Apply today and we’ll help cover the costs of your celebration.
Pay It Forward
This season, give light to couples who are looking for a way into Judaism. Your gift will help us provide support to young couples who are seeking community during this difficult time.