Celebrating the Festival of Lights

As we celebrate the holiday season, two Asante families share their Hanukkah traditions.


There is a subtle change in the air at Asante. Perhaps the return of in-person celebrations has lifted the general spirits of staff, as many departments and teams prepare holiday get-togethers and activities this season.

Ugly Christmas sweaters, Christmas lights, tinsel and décor can be seen throughout our facilities. Christmas music can be heard throughout our halls. Christmas is one of the most popular holidays celebrated in the United States. So much so, that in 1870, Christmas was declared a federal holiday. When we think of Christmas, we may think of family, friends, neighbors and community members gathering and sharing in traditions that honor so much more than trees, presents and lights.

But Christmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated during the winter season. In fact another holiday celebrates the beauty of lights, family and faith: Hanukkah. Below, two Asante families share what this holiday means to them.

This winter season the ABIDE (Asante Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity) team would like to honor all the ways in which our Asante staff may celebrate this season. Now, more than ever, we need a reason to gather again and celebrate, to be reminded that we are stronger together and that everyone has a place.

Whether you celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Diwali, Chinese Lunar New Year, Lohri, Las Posadas, Christmas or simply let the season pass in peace, we wish each and every one of you happiness in the coming year.

Sarah Aaronson lights a menorah at Temple Emek Shalom Hanukkah party.
Celebrating the holiday with my children, Sarah and Leah, and friends Leo and Mason Decker.
Food is a featured guest.
Sarah Aaronson lights a menorah at Temple Emek Shalom Hanukkah party.

Hannukah is a family affair

Susan Aaronson, development officer, Asante Foundation

Hannukah is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers and fried foods. This year the first night to light Hanukkah candles is Sunday, Dec. 18. The eighth, or final night, will be Sunday, Dec. 25.

Because all Jewish holidays are based on the Hebrew lunar calendar and not the solar-based Gregorian calendar, Hanukkah usually begins sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Although it is considered a minor holiday compared to major Jewish holidays such as Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, my family, like many others, enjoys the traditions of lighting candles on the menorah each night, singing songs, giving small gifts and making latkes (potato pancakes), which are traditionally served with apple sauce or sour cream.

Our synagogue, Temple Emek Shalom, usually throws a Hanukkah party for all the children with latke cooking competitions, dancing, crafts, games, menorah candle lightings and songs.

Every year we look forward to lighting the candles on my daughters’ great-great-grandmother’s menorah!

Candles, light and food

Troy Marion-Arnold, care transformation nurse, APP Population Health

HanukkahMy family has always celebrated Hanukkah with lighting of the menorah. We have one menorah from Israel, given to me by family. I have two others from Philadelphia, where I was raised and lived for most of my life. Each of my children would light a menorah, (and now my grandchildren light them) so we had lots of candles burning. I also have an electric menorah I place in the window.

I always make traditional foods, including latkes, which is a potato pancake that everyone loves. Also prepare kugel which is a sweet noodle dish. And of course Hanukkah cookies.

When the children were young, we gave them a small gift each night and large gift on the last night of Hanukkah. After lighting the candles with special prayers, we told the story of Hanukkah, then we sang songs, played games and gave out gifts.

Tags: ABIDE, celebration, Hannukah, holiday, season, Susan Aaronson, Troy Marion-Arnold
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If you need answers for a personal work matter, please contact the author or department directly instead of leaving a comment.

3 Comments. Leave new

  • I love this! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • These are wonderful!
    The past few years, my wife and I have started doing something for others for the eight nights. It might be as small as paying for someone’s coffee at Starbucks, or a bigger effort, like cooking a meal for a family in need.

  • Denise Workman
    December 15, 2022 2:07 pm

    Beautiful traditions – thank you for sharing


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