Hanukkah: A Festival of DeLights

(Rochester, NY) - Explore the evolution of Hanukkah from its origin as a small holiday within Judaism to one of major prominence in assimilated Americans Jewish life. Interviews include actors William Shatner and Lainie Kazan, author Abigail Pogrebin, rabbis, historians, artists and more sharing historical background and personal memories of a unique holiday that connects generations of Jewish families. Hanukkah: A Festival of DeLights premieres Sunday, November 25, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. on WXXI-TV. 

Throughout the program, a brother and sister, children on the cusp of their Jewish adulthood, learn on-screen how to make potato latkes (pancakes) from their bubbe (grandmother) and ask questions about the meaning of the holiday of their rabbi, reinforcing the role of Hanukkah as a powerful connection between generations past and future and exploring its complicated history.

While Hanukkah is in so many ways a Festival of “de-Lights” with inviting aromas, uplifting melodies, fun celebrations, and nightly gifts for the children, as many in the program describe it can be challenging for some families to celebrate in the open as a minority, with a menorah lit in the window as has always been tradition. In the Jewish religion, life is often described as an eternal struggle between darkness and light, the triumph of hope over despair, and it is a theme central to the Hanukkah story that many in the program see as one of the reasons the holiday is more relevant than ever.  Despite this, Hanukkah remains a key part of Jewish life for those interviewed.  Actor Lainie Kazan, preparing for her grandson’s first holiday with family filled with holiday songs to “bring him into our world” asserts, “If I can keep the candles lit the rest of my life I’ll be very happy.” 

Photo caption: Hanukkah: A Festival of DeLights examines the traditions at the center of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, including lighting candles for eight nights on the lamp known as a menorah.
Photo credit:  Courtesy of Yehoshua Halevi.

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