BOONE — The Temple of the High Country will begin its celebration of Hanukkah on Saturday, Dec. 24, starting at 5 p.m. at the temple, which is located at 1043 W. King St., Boone.
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that is observed for eight nights and days and commemorates the reclamation of the Holy Temple by Jewish people.
“It’s kind of like an Independence Day for us,” said Chuck Lieberman, a former temple president who currently teaches Hebrew classes at the temple and has been a member for 35 years.
At the Hanukkah celebration, temple members will light menorah candles and eat latkes, a traditional Hebrew potato pancake cooked in oil. The latkes will be accompanied by a potluck dinner and traditional latke sides such as sour cream and applesauce.
Both the latkes and candles are representations of the oil used to light a single candle for a night during the reclamation of the temple by Jewish people from their Greek rulers. Thought only to be enough oil for a single night, the oil ended up burning for eight nights, according to the Jewish tradition.
The eight nights and days are represented in the eight candles of the menorah. One candle is lit each night of Hanukkah.
Lieberman said that because the Hanukkah holiday usually occurs within close proximity to Christmas, it has taken on a much larger role in the Hebrew calendar.
“We would see our Gentile friends having such a good time, and we wanted to do the same for our children,” Lieberman said. “You have a party, you light candles, you exchange gifts.”
The next day, on Sunday, Dec. 25, temple members will help local churches serve meals of turkey and ham—along with latkes—at the Hospitality House located at 338 Brook Hollow Road, Boone.
“We’re really excited about going out on that day and helping others,” said temple Hospitality Chairperson Zodie Powers. “And we’re glad that a lot of temple members will be there to help.”
Earlier in the month, on Dec. 11, the temple’s Sisterhood organization had their own celebration of Hanukkah in which female members of the temple enjoyed eating latkes.
The sisterhood members also exchanged gifts of dreidels. Dreidels are four-sided spinning tops, usually made of wood, marked with Jewish letters and symbols.
Lieberman wishes that more people would join the temple’s December celebrations but is happy with how previous Hannukah celebrations have gone.
“I think we’ll all have a really good time,” Lieberman said.